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Noble steed I really enjoyed the recent article on the Beech Baron G58 (“Noble Steed,” February 2009 AOPA Pilot). I started my company with a 1970 B58 Baron and in the last 20 years have put many thousands of hours on it.

Noble steed

I really enjoyed the recent article on the Beech Baron G58 (“ Noble Steed,” February 2009 AOPA Pilot). I started my company with a 1970 B58 Baron and in the last 20 years have put many thousands of hours on it. Even today, with a fleet of 35-plus jets and turboprops doing the heavy lifting for us, my favorite airplane of them all still sits proudly in the hangar. While long since retired from work, she still provides transportation for me and my family. A wonderful airplane indeed.

The most amusing part of the article was not in Ian Twombly’s thorough debrief of the flight in the airplane, but of the photographs depicting the nose gear doors hanging open slightly (as they so often do on the Barons). It made me feel better about my 39-year-old 58 model to know that even a 2009 G58 has its subtle flaws!

Dan Drohan, AOPA 1135487
Petaluma, California

Why would anyone in their right mind spend $1.2 million on an airplane with a useful load with full fuel of only 480 pounds? That is me at 210 pounds, my son at 190 pounds, two golf bags, some underwear, and socks. Now our wives are lost and alone on some forgotten highway driving to be with us, leaving us alone for the foreseeable future. I know you can leave some fuel on the ground, but my primary flight instructor always preached, “Never leave runway or fuel behind.” I would prefer a Cessna 182 or 206/210 with some useful load that can carry all four of us.

Ed Buehler, AOPA 719656
Rosenberg, Texas

I was thrilled when I saw the Baron on the cover. While I have spent only a little more than six hours at the controls of a BE58, it remains to this day my favorite light twin. Sure-footed. Smooth. Nimble. Quick. Unbelievable performance in a reciprocating twin. Definitely on my list of “must-own airplanes.”

Like all the members of the Beechcraft family, it has a very heavy yoke. Therefore the mantra is, trim, trim, trim.

My time was during Part 91 repositioning flights between charter operations at Great Lakes Airlines. One of our two Barons could actually outrun our BE99. Granted, the 99 was equipped with a belly pod, which does add a lot of drag. Still, it was quite an achievement.

Dave K. Purscell
Owatonna, Minnesota

I have to take issue with Ian Twombly’s gushing comments about the Beech Baron. Although the airplane has many wonderful features, it seems that no one addresses the very obvious issue of “legacy” aircraft manufacturers that continue to build 40-year-old designs. This airplane still has only one front door, so the pilot has to crawl across the front passenger seat; it still has magnetos; and it’s still all-metal. To add insult to injury, when Beech added the Garmin G1000, they put the backup instruments as far to the right as they’d fit, rather than try to modify the instrument panel to make them fit in front of the pilot—which Cirrus, Diamond, and many others have done.

My intention is not to trash this airplane, but relatively speaking, for the $1.2 million price of this all-metal, 200-knot, non-FADEC airplane with a poorly designed instrument panel, inconvenient (or downright dangerous in an emergency) pilot ingress-egress, and engines that hit TBO 15 percent sooner than most nowadays (1,700 hours), I can buy two or three Cirrus or Diamond aircraft, get FADEC in one, get a parachute in the other, a door for pilot and front passenger, composite construction, and an instrument panel that looks like it was designed for flying, not just as a perfunctory competitive update.

This may have been the Cadillac of airplanes in its day, but today it reminds me of the land yachts of the 1970s, barely updated to look new and modern.

Jerry Zezas, AOPA 3465947
Nokomis, Florida

Share the power

I have never written to anyone directly at the magazine, but I was compelled after Thomas B. Haines’ article “ Waypoints: Share the Power” (February AOPA Pilot). I couldn’t agree with Haines more. It’s hard to express to nonpilots the joy and satisfaction that comes from flying. I’ve had my certificate since 2001 and haven’t logged as many hours as I would like, but my head seems to never leave the left seat.

I run a small online show on a part-time basis called That’s Awesome: TV . It’s mainly an educational technology show, but I do whatever I deem “awesome.” I published my latest episode called, “Come Fly With Me,” where I took viewers up in the air and talked about general aviation. After I published the show, I read Haines’ article. I thought, What a coincidence, a lot of the same message I was just trying to convey to my viewers who are not pilots. Thanks for the great read, and know that small-time pilots (like me) are doing our part to keep general aviation going strong. I have received a number of comments from viewers who are really excited about learning more.

Scott Aubuchon, AOPA 3940197
Davison, Michigan

A light bulb goes on

The article “ Frugal Flier: A Light Bulb Goes On” in the February issue reminded me of my time at my grandmother’s home in New Hampshire. This was the winter of 1944-45. It was a very cold winter with a large snowfall. We kept our car in the old barn. We also did not have any antifreeze. I remember my father placing a 100-watt bulb under the hood just as the author recommended. But in our case there was a genuine buffalo robe hanging in the barn. So this buffalo skin was placed over the hood to keep the heat in.

Clinton Gilliland, AOPA 333906
Menlo Park, California

I farmed for many years. The water control center from which the hog buildings, cattle pens, and even our home were supplied was housed in a structure about the size of a large doghouse. I heated it in winter with two 100-watt bulbs and it prevented freeze-up even at outside air temperatures of minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit.

It also works on my Cessna 182. I insert two basic mechanics’ trouble lights, each 100 watts, one in through each cowl flap opening; plug the inlets and other openings; and cover the cowl with old blankets. I supply the lights through a timer set to come on at 2 a.m. on the day I hope to fly. From a thermometer I lay on top of the oil cooler, I usually see a 25- to 30-degree temperature rise from the temperature inside my unheated hanger. The engine starts without priming and with quick oil pressure.

I’ve been doing that for 20 years now. It was interesting to note someone else doing the same thing.

Dick Gabrielson, AOPA 477438
Lyons, Colorado

The day the music died

Being a singer as well as a pilot, I enjoyed Bruce Landsberg’s article “ Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: The Day the Music Died” (February AOPA Pilot). The bus trouble Holly experienced was a lack of heat—a big problem in Iowa during the winter. One unpublicized fact surrounding this accident was that the late Waylon Jennings was on this tour as well, and was supposed to fly that night. He gave up his seat in the Bonanza for J.P. Richardson, the Big Bopper. Richardson, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens went by air while the rest rode on the cold bus.

When Holly jokingly told Jennings that he hoped the bus froze up again, Jennings retorted with, “I hope your ole plane crashes.” Jennings was plagued by that statement as well as survivor’s guilt for years to come. Holly was one of his mentors and had produced his first record. Fate can sometimes be cruel. Jennings’ experience did, however, help him to reach out to Reba McEntire in a knowledgeable manner when she lost her entire band in a crash on March 16, 1991, in California. Both of these accidents are worthy of in-depth review as each holds a plethora of lessons.

Landsberg makes an excellent point with his “Note to self: Listen to that inner voice, it’s usually right!”—a lesson I learned the hard way in an accident in 1990. If you are asking yourself if it is a good idea to launch, then you really know the answer already. Listen to it and abide by it.

Bob Hanlon, AOPA 1218541
Aston, Pennsylvania

I was a vocalist in the Norman Petty Trio back in 1956-1957. I was in Norm’s recording studio one evening in 1957 or 1958 during the holiday season while home from college. Buddy Holly and Maria Elena came through on their way from Los Angeles and stopped in to tell us all hello. Holly’s first hit and album were done in Norm’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico, so we were all excited about his success.

Buddy asked me if I was still flying (I had started lessons with a spray pilot in a J–3 back when I skipped high school English class to go out and take lessons on the grass strip in Clovis). I told him I was spending money to get through college, thus no flying. Holly had wanted me to fly Maria Elena and him to St. Louis where he had to be within 24 hours to do a promotional show with the media. I knew Holly during the hit years, and I knew his impatience and desire to fly rather than drive.

Bill Sego, AOPA 120924
Albuquerque, New Mexico


The useful load specification published in the “ Sky Truck” article on the Cessna Caravan (March AOPA Pilot) was incorrect. Cessna lists the Grand Caravan’s maximum useful load as 3,772 pounds. The article stated 4,105 pounds. Pilot regrets the error.

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