October 1, 1997

Class of its own

The article on Sam Bellotte's Cessna 195 (" In a Class of Its Own," August Pilot) was certainly interesting to me. It brought back memories of my first corporate flying job in February 1953. The airplane was a Cessna 195B with a 275-horsepower "Shakin' Jake," as we called them, and a crosswind gear plus a new Lear Ominiscope for navigation. Wow! The 195 got your attention early on, kind of like an untrained horse, but once you got acquainted, the airplane was a well-behaved, dependable workhorse that was fun to fly.

The crosswind gear often caused concern to the unfamiliar control tower operator who, upon seeing the airplane roll out in a crab after a strong crosswind landing, would ask if there was a problem with the airplane. Our 195 was polished metal and buffed regularly to a bright shine. The Jacobs engine mount was hinged to swing out for engine maintenance. I flew that 195 more than 2,000 hours across the United States and Canada, fortunately without putting a ding on it. I credit my military training for most of that.

I never met an airplane that I didn't like, and among my favorites the 195 ranked right with the top.

Donald F. Esser AOPA 966495
Kewadin, Michigan

While packing my 195 for Oshkosh, I received the August Pilot, which included the fine article on the Cessna 195. It also erroneously credited me with being the author of the book Taming the Taildragger. I have not seen the book, but I did produce a video on taming the taildragger that features my 195. I hasten to add, however, that it is not a Cessna 195 checkout tape.

My wife and I have owned our 1953 Cessna 195 for more than 34 years, during which time we have put 3,100 hours on it while flying all over Alaska; Canada; and, of course, the United States, from coast to coast. We produce aviation videos, and we can cram that airplane full of camping gear and 200 pounds of camera equipment and go anywhere, anytime. In my 53 years of flying as a CFI, corporate pilot, and former designee, I have never flown another airplane that gave me the service and reliability of this old beast.

Larry Bartlett AOPA 049830
Pagosa Springs, Colorado

I would like to add my comments about checking out in 195s. This airplane has three levels of complexity not found in most other general aviation aircraft currently available. It's obviously a taildragger, but the radial engine and the size of a 195 add their own challenges. One indeed does need a 195 instructor, but before getting into the cockpit of a 195, one would be well served to have logged time in a heavier airplane (such as a Debonair or something with a gross weight over 3,000 pounds) and to have mastered the commercial flight maneuvers. Having said all this, it's a true pleasure and an honor to own and fly a 195.

Elizabeth Copland Leckey AOPA 769631
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Time flies for all

Although I am just 29 years old, " Waypoints: Time Flies, Too" (August Pilot) had me headed down memory lane after reading the first column, and it took several attempts to read through all of it. Coincidentally, just two days ago I was asked by a passenger visiting our flight deck about how long I have been flying and was judged "too young for that figure to be true."

I started flying gliders 14 years ago and vividly remembered being given a slap on the rear end by the assembled airfield population, as is the custom in the countryside, and giving same to colleagues at several other occasions (closer to the cities, they cut ties — or shirttails, if the wise applicant elects not to wear a tie). Beating of glider pilots after their first solo is not a pagan rite, of course, but considered an absolute necessity to improve their sensitivity for thermal currents.

Siegfried Lenz AOPA 1007328
Vienna, Austria

The tradition of "solo shirttails" is alive and well at my airport — Schaumburg (Illinois) Air Park. When I soloed for the first time earlier this spring, I was completely surprised when my instructor cut off the back of my T-shirt.

At any time there are at least a half dozen T-shirt backs hanging on the wall. The instructors draw some really witty, and humorous, cartoon-like pictures. On mine my instructor is on the ground saying, "Oh, my God!" while I am in the airplane in a stall attitude, with little buffet marks around the wings, thinking "too high again." Although I have never been even close to stalling, I do tend to be high on final. But I am getting better.

And here is an idea to keep up the tradition and maybe estimate how popular it is — organize a contest for the best solo shirttails.

Tzvetan J. Kolev AOPA 1318703
Mount Prospect, Illinois

I could really identify with Thomas B. Haines' remarks about each flight's being different. Now in my thirty-second year of aviating, every flight is still special. I love it.

It's a lot of fun to go back through old logbooks and look at the entries. Something like looking at photo albums. Sometimes my wife and I reminisce over entries. "Look, that was our first trip to the Rockies." Here and there are terse entries recording memorable flights: "first loop;" " Thunderstorms;" "Young Eagles flight," etc.

I hope to continue flying another 32 years or so. May the magic continue; may it never become so boring that I (and you) don't care enough to log the time.

Dwane Koppler AOPA 450816
Springfield, Missouri

Night: The right time?

I read yet another item (" Letters," August Pilot) that cautions the VFR pilot against night flying. We (VFR pilots) are cautioned because of the fact that this IFR pilot was flying VFR and entered IMC conditions. These types of comments and articles pertaining to VFR night flight have a tone of self-righteousness and convey the message that a VFR pilot is less capable of rational thinking than an IFR pilot. Maybe Part 91 IFR pilots should refrain from carrying passengers in IMC conditions and let the commercial pilots handle it. Absurd, isn't it?

With only 1,100 hours and a VFR ticket, I have no desire to acquire an IFR rating or enter IMC conditions for the pleasure of flying. I prefer to fly at night, and at one point half my logged time was during the night. It's generally smooth and cool, and it allows other traffic to be spotted easily. As only a VFR pilot, I am very aware and cautious of the night demons and have become very understanding of weather.

No matter the rating a pilot has, I trust only to fly with those rational and competent in their thinking, whether it's VFR or IFR. So climb down off your horses because, as everyone knows, the terrain has no preference as to one's ratings.

Mark Peters AOPA 962899
Chandler, Arizona

Probing precautionary landings

I enjoyed the article about precautionary landings (" Measure of Skill: Discretion and Precaution," August Pilot) — good information for pilots, especially low-time VFR pilots like myself. I did have a question, though. Are there any legal repercussions if you, say, have a rough-running engine and decide to set down on an isolated stretch of highway or a field? Is there is a requirement to file a report with the FAA or the NTSB? I often wonder if pilots get into trouble because they think that if they can get back to the airport, there won't be any messy paperwork to file.

Craig A. Gooding AOPA 1307346
Beaufort, South Carolina

Under FAR 91.3, which grants you special authority during an in-flight emergency, you can even break any other of the FARs — as long as it's in the name of safety. In other words, if you have a good reason to perform a precautionary landing, the FAA can't bust you simply for doing so. State or local police, may ticket you for obstructing traffic. If the airplane is damaged or its occupants are injured in the landing, then it may have to be reported; those criteria are specified in NTSB Part 830, which is included in most copies of the FARs — Ed.

Wandering winds

I really felt for T. Gunter Smith after reading his story (" Never Again: Over the Top," August Pilot). As he discovered the hard way, checking a windsock a mile away is not adequate for assessing the wind.

Here is a simple but effective procedure to avoid landing downwind: simply fly a good rectangular landing pattern and watch your drift on each leg, especially base and final. If you are drifting toward the field on base leg, abort the approach and evaluate the wind again. You will probably be landing on the opposite runway.

Walter D. Cason AOPA 184784
Deer Park, California

I read with interest Smith's tale of the bruising of his Stearman and ego in a downwind landing on a polo field. He crafted the article, however, in a fashion that left untold the critical lesson to be learned from his experience. His misjudgment of the wind condition — despite his earlier observation only a mile or two away — may have occurred because he landed near water. He did not elaborate as to the size of the body of water near which he landed, but as a sailor and pilot, I can relate that it is not uncommon to experience radical wind shifts brought on by temperature variations near bodies of water. I have sailed southerly breezes near shore that calm and turn northerly after a 20-minute lull and a sunset have passed. This is the cautionary tale that may prevent a downwind landing near water in the future for your readers.

Brian Greffenius AOPA 760167
Covington, Louisiana

Panel propaganda

I enjoyed Marc Cook's " Airframe and Powerplant: Ownership's Wrenching Possibilities" (August Pilot). However, I am afraid that you may be misleading your readers to believe that as aircraft owners they are allowed to open inspections plates for 100 hour/annual inspections. Please refer to Appendix D of FAR 43, which states that persons performing the inspection must do this. This duty cannot be delegated. I encourage all owners and pilots to learn as much as possible and assist in aircraft maintenance if capable and authorized. Keep up the good work!

Edward W. Foster AOPA 1329476
Rockledge, Florida

Actually, FAR 43.3(d) is governing here. It specifically provides that "a person working under the supervision of a holder of a mechanic or repairman certificate may perform the maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations that his supervisor is authorized to perform, if the supervisor personally observes the work being done to the extent necessary to ensure that it is being done properly and if the supervisor is readily available, in person, for consultation." This would include the removal of inspection panels but not, of course, the performance of the inspection itself — Ed.


Because of an editing error, question 7 in August's " Test Pilot" contained an incorrect answer choice. Answer (a) should have read, "Repair broken landing light circuits."

Senator Tim Hutchinson was misidentified in " President's Position: The Hoover Bill" (August Pilot). He is a Republican from Arkansas.

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