Letters: East/West Fly-Off

Our continuing series—“Fly Off”—pitted two trainers in an aerial drag race. Readers had some interesting thoughts.

September 1, 2013

east west flyoffI think the subject T–34B is not representative of the actual T–34s the Department of Defense operated. I had the privilege of doing my FAA commercial certificate in an ex-USAF T–34A, with its stock 225-horsepower O-470; pressure carb, and two-blade 88-inch prop. It was a dog—140 KIAS and 750 fpm climb with two people and 40 gallons of gas was considered a good day. Usually it climbed at 500 fpm at 120 KIAS to avoid overheating. The stock Navy T–34B was little better in performance with the same 225-horsepower O-470 pressure carb engine and 88-inch propeller. May I suggest that if the stock T–34B and a stock CJ–6 were compared, the CJ–6 would smoke it.

Eric H. Bale
AOPA 1210375
Madison, Alabama

Dave Hirschman contributes to the confusion and misinformation about flying tailwheel airplanes.

He states that in forward-center-of-gravity or full-flap conditions a wheel landing should be considered. I know of no technical reason for these. He states that in a T–6 the flaps “blank the rudder and make a three-pointer preferable.” Wow. That’s a new one on me.

But here’s the main technical problem. He states that it’s a “mistaken belief” that the touchdown should occur in a level flight attitude and that a “tail-low attitude is optimal.” That’s just wrong. The exact attitude for a wheel landing depends on the airplane—some gliders are easier tail-low—but as a general guideline a nearly level attitude works best. And it’s lots easier!

The real test should have been with a stock engine (not an IO-520) in the T–34, and the stock prop, the two-blade. Modifiers do plenty to the Nanchang to boost not only its top speed, but climb as well with M-14 conversions, and MT three-blade props, which make a huge difference in performance in all arenas, in spite of its less aerodynamic shape.

Dan L. Delane
AOPA 1717658
Rancho Palos Verdes, California

What he is advocating is a last-minute decision and a view that external forces will determine the outcome of a procedure. Two hazardous attitudes—impulsivity and resignation—combined with poor planning and improper technique.

Articles on fluff topics such as pilot jumpsuits are one thing. But serious topics require a serious approach and correct technical information rather than mysterious lore and anecdotal observation.

Dan Tannas
 AOPA 392453
Long Beach, Indiana

Dave Hirschman responds: This is exactly the kind of “conventional wisdom” the article was meant to address. Next time you’re around a T–6, take a close look at the center section flap. Many are wired shut to avoid precisely the type of rudder blanking mentioned in my story. A wheel landing in a level attitude means a low angle of attack and excessive speed that takes a long time, lots of runway, and plenty of rubber to dissipate. Better to touch down slower in a tail-low
attitude. The techniques I advocate may seem heretical, but as Yogi Berra used to say, “You can
observe a lot just by watching.”

Fly Well

Several months ago I received a mailing through AOPA for a health screening by Life Line Screening. Since it was convenient and the cost seemed reasonable—along with “endorsement” by AOPA—I participated.

 I want to let Dr. Sackier know that some of us are interested in preventive options, but, more important, we do something when a negative result is indicated. Since I received my results (I did not like the word obese and the blood pressure result) I have lost 20 pounds—eight more to go—and at my FAA exam in May my blood pressure was 102/60. I will explore Dr. Sackier’s recommended scan next year, unless something causes me to return to my physician earlier (I hope not). Dr. Sackier, keep making the recommendations!

Lee Myers
AOPA 973452
Charlotte, North Carolina

Dogfight

In my office at the Air Force Academy, I keep my E6B next to my 1980s-vintage leather Jeppesen binders. They both look really cool on the shelf. I feel the same about my dad’s slide rule he used in college in the 1950s. But I don’t use any of these when I go flying! 

Jim Greer
AOPA 684066
Colorado Springs, Colorado

License to Learn

“The Backseat” by Rod Machado brought back a pleasant memory. As many pilots do, I took great pleasure in introducing friends and anyone willing to the joys of flying in a small general aviation airplane.

On one such occasion I had invited a new friend for a flight to “somewhere,” and in the course of the flight asked if he had ever been in a small airplane before. He replied that he had—in fact, he was a reconnaissance pilot in Vietnam and a military flight instructor. So much for the introductory flight.

After a nice flight into the next state and back, and having put the airplane back in the hangar, he said that there were very few pilots that he would fly with and occupy the rear seat. He said that I was one that he would have been comfortable flying with and occupying the rear seat. I considered that the best compliment I ever received in all of my flying years, and one that was encouraging to me when I found myself beating myself up after what I considered a less-than-stellar performance in the cockpit, or after a flight review which I felt was less than satisfactory. So, when having a bad day, think about the good days, and that will make the bad day better.

Jack D. Trygg
AOPA 766668
Aloha, Oregon

Training

I saw the article concerning an airport that has a Redbird Jay simulator for a fixed fee of $120 per year for unlimited hours. Mercer County Airport in Bluefield, West Virginia, can top that. A local pilot anonymously donated one to the airport, stipulating there be no charge to anyone for use.

The idea came from AOPA Pilot’s numerous articles about the value of desktop-simulator time in improving safety and risk management through inexpensive simulator training. Now that Redbird is marketing an extremely high quality simulator for less than three grand, it wasn’t too hard to find someone willing to donate the money. It’s now been in our pilot’s lounge for about three months and is being used by students and experienced pilots alike. The donor hopes the idea will catch on and pilots will utilize the pilot’s-lounge time everywhere to improve their skills. Come to Bluefield for the cheapest Jay time in the country—$0.00.

Chandler Swope
AOPA 3886945
Bluefield, West Virginia

SMO

I read Barry Schiff’s “Another Nail in the Coffin,” concerning Santa Monica Airport.
My Cessna 172 is based at Chino. On a recent Sunday, my sister-in-law, who lives in Santa Monica, called and invited my wife and me to lunch (I’ll fly for any reason, but especially for food). The flight from Chino to Santa Monica is only 20 to 25 minutes. We flew over downtown Los Angeles and Century City. It was great. There was a lot of traffic at Santa Monica—private jets and general aviation folks. We tied down and drove to the beach for lunch on the beach. We had a good time and we left money in the city of Santa Monica.

The local politicians are not concerned with providing low- income housing on the 215 acres that comprise the airport. What the politicians and developers are concerned with is lining their pockets with as much money as they can. They will do anything to further their own interests. I can picture them in a back room, smoking cigars.

I regularly contribute to the AOPA PAC. Please tell me how I can make myself heard regarding this flagrant misuse of political power.

Richard Parmelee
AOPA 997987
Corona, California

We received many letters reflecting Mr. Parmelee’s desire to help Santa Monica. Contributions to AOPA’s Political Action Committee are in fact the best way to assist the association in helping to save airports.