Letters

A pilot’s airplane

August 1, 2010

Every month I look forward to the variety of subjects in AOPA Pilot. I really enjoyed Ian J. Twombly’s article on the Cessna Corvalis TT in the June 2010 issue ( “Cessna Corvalis TT: A Pilot’s Airplane”). I felt an opinion of a lower-time pilot (100 hours) might be taken as an impartial viewpoint. The Corvalis is a quality product that deserves a look by buyers looking for an aircraft in this category.

In April 2009 at the Scottsdale (Arizona) Airport, during an open house event, I test-flew one with a very polite representative from Cessna. There were no surprises in steering with the brakes. Initiating full power during takeoff was predictable and manageable. Departing the pattern I was asked about the side-stick control. My comment will mirror Twombly’s in that it felt like an extension of my arm, so control input was more of a will than an actual physical input; I immediately became comfortable with it. The vibration mentioned in Twombly’s article was something I did not sense in this particular airplane. I did some slow flight with the stall indicator chirping and found the airplane had very good manners. Unfortunately this was only a short test flight of maybe 30 minutes.

Upon returning, the Cessna representative allowed me to handle the complete pattern work and landing. The speed brakes really work and the predictability during the flare, without any ballooning, was amazing. I actually found it easier to land than the 172 or Archer types I am most familiar with. Cessna has made a good decision to market this fine product, in my opinion. Now, if I could only win the Powerball!

Peter F. Gibbs, AOPA 5962383
Phoenix, Arizona

While the Corvalis seems like a marvelous demonstration of technology, it sure seems to demand a high price in terms of operating cost. My 1982 Bonanza V35 does a very comfortable 160 to 165 mph at 10 to 11 gallons per hour. Doubling the fuel flow to get 30 percent more speed just seems wasteful. It is a Part 23 Utility category aircraft, which means it has very finite life limits. Now I know for those that can write off the investment, it doesn’t cost that much, but what if we go to a flat or value-added tax?

It is not my intent to be Mr. Scrooge, but with the cost, tax, and 100LL issues, we (young smart guys) need to come up with some very innovative solutions.

Burns Moore, AOPA 1465749
Montgomery, Texas

So the name “Corvalis” is controversial, huh? Soon after Cessna bought Columbia and renamed this beautiful aircraft the Corvalis, a Cessna spokesman was quoted in the local media as saying that it was named after a “nearby town in the Williamette Valley.” That town is Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University (note the difference in spelling). What’s controversial about that? But I do wish I could afford one!

Bret Dalrymple
Bend, Oregon

Mobile maintenance

Dave Hirschman’s coverage of the frugal aspect of GA does much to inspire one in today’s restrictive and cost-prohibitive atmosphere (“ Frugal Flier: Mobile Maintenance,” June 2010 AOPA Pilot). Having had personal experience with Brian Wallis; Wallis Aviation, Inc.; and his highly professional operation is a pleasure and also a valuable learning experience.

Curtis Carlton Dunn
Sugar Hill, Georgia

Play it by ear

Thank you, Barry Schiff, for a great nostalgic article on the gone but not forgotten low-frequency range stations (“ Proficient Pilot: Play It By Ear,” June 2010 AOPA Pilot).

I remember flying two types of orientations in the 1950s. One was called a “Fade 90” and the other a “Fade Parallel.” In one you flew a course parallel to a particular leg to establish whether you were flying close to the station or away from it. After that was established, you flew toward the station and waited until you intercepted the course. In the other, you flew a heading to establish the direction toward the station until you crossed an “on-course.” You turned 90 degrees right or left to determine which course you had just crossed. Did I leave something out?

Ernie Reid, AOPA 1406022
Orange Park, Florida

Barry Schiff replies: The official names of the three methods of orientation were: “True Fade 90-Degree Orientation” (Fade Parallell and Fade Perpendicular), “On-Course Orientation,” and “Close-In Orientation.” Ah, yes, the good old days.

Party line

I enjoyed Mark Twombly’s column in the June 2010 issue as I always do, but I don’t understand the dialogue between the Malibu pilot and the controller (“ Pilotage: Party Line”). 

I fly a Beech A36 out of St. Simons Island, Georgia, and almost always file IFR. I hear a lot of VFR pilots requesting flight following, and unless ATC is unusually busy, they almost always get courteous handling. I’m not really familiar with the term “radar advisories” but I suppose it is the same as flight following. That being said, why would the controller tell the pilot he should have asked for radar service before taking off? When would he ask this, and who would he ask? I guess I could understand this better if it took place in New York Center, not down South.

Mike Pickett, AOPA 1187005
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Mark Twombly replies: Tight space prevented me from explaining it more thoroughly. Here’s what happened: The Malibu pilot departed FMY—Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida, which lies underneath Class C airspace associated with Fort Myers International Airport (RSW). The floor of the Class C airspace is 1,200 feet msl. The Malibu pilot took off and climbed right up into Class C airspace, then contacted RSW Approach and asked for flight following. That’s why the controller asked him why he didn’t ask for radar service before departing. (The procedure at FMY is to tell ground control that you are requesting Class Charlie service if you want radar traffic advisories.) It’s very possible the Malibu could have presented a loss of separation situation with an aircraft arriving or departing RSW, which is only seven miles away. The Malibu pilot failed to acquaint himself with even the most basic facts concerning airspace overlying FMY, and consequently made all of us look bad. You are correct—radar advisories means flight following. I guess I’m dating myself when I think of flight following as the ATC service provided over the Great Lakes and other remote areas for SAR purposes.

Any pilot with more than a few hours logged has an air traffic controller story. This is my favorite: I was flying a dozen huge cattle in a Flying Tiger DC–8-63 freighter into John F. Kennedy International Airport from Shannon, Ireland. We were level at 12,000 feet and when we switched to approach control we heard ATC brusquely holding all aircraft at 12,000 feet and then asking for a maximum-effort descent to the final approach fix for the ILS to Runway 31L.

When I checked in I advised we had a load of huge cows on board. Was there any chance we could work around the “slam dunk?” My co-pilot snickered and told me this was JFK, good luck.

Our New York man came back with, “Tiger 783, Kennedy, left turn to 040, your discretion to 3,500 feet.”

I read that back, and then a popular passenger carrier came on and said, “Kennedy Approach, since when are cows more important than people?”

Answer? “Sir, if all your people weigh a ton and are without seatbelts I will give you the same vector.” Lots of mics were clicked.

Larry Partridge, AOPA 3493715
La Conner, Washington

Mark Twombly replies: Great story! I wish we heard stuff like that on the frequency these days. One of my favorite ATC stories has Braniff and American flights inbound to Dallas, each arriving at about the same time. The controller says to both, “Well, one of you is going to have to choose who goes first.” So the Braniff pilot keys his mic and says, “Well, we’ve got a light load tonight so we’re in no particular hurry. Why don’t you let Braniff on in ahead of us?” I got to use that trick when a friend and, I on a flight of two, were inbound to home base with the same ETA. I got there first.

Lessons from an ILS approach

Regarding the Gulfstream accident highlighted in “ Pilot Counsel: Lessons From an ILS Approach” (June 2010 AOPA Pilot), perhaps if the pilots had identified the frequency they were tuned to, as is considered normal good practice, they would have realized the error of their ways in adequate time to tune the correct ILS frequency. It seems that many accidents occur because of simple, but poor, pilot techniques, as is the case in this incident.

James G. Wilson, AOPA 269522
Pearland, Texas

Erratum

Pilot Briefing,” June 2010, implied that Richard Greene is the FAA national flight instructor of the year. Greene was a local award winner. The national winner is Jeff Moss of Los Angeles.

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