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NASCAR drivers fly, too It seems that all racers and pilots enjoy the freedom of flight and speed (“NASCAR Drivers Fly, Too,” March AOPA Pilot). I think that these professional drivers can be an outstanding influence on general aviation and a great resource.

NASCAR drivers fly, too

It seems that all racers and pilots enjoy the freedom of flight and speed (“ NASCAR Drivers Fly, Too,” March AOPA Pilot). I think that these professional drivers can be an outstanding influence on general aviation and a great resource. What great representatives and role models they can be. They are truly part of our family.

Brad Stankey, AOPA 1489386
Bend, Oregon

My dad and I built a race car, and I started racing when I was 22 years old in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the same track that Terry and Bobby Labonte raced before they went to NASCAR. I won the track championship my second year. I got my commercial and instrument rating and have about 5,600 hours flying time now. Driving race cars and flying airplanes have a lot in common. I was glad to see this story in AOPA Pilot.

Jeff Janak, AOPA 1055043
Sinton, Texas

During an instrument cross-country to Wily Post Airport in Oklahoma City, I had the opportunity to meet Jamie McMurray’s race team. They had stopped for fuel and a brief rest in their jet, and I was there in a Cessna Cardinal. As a long-term NASCAR fan I knew they looked familiar (in particular McMurray), so I asked the crew chief and he told me who they all were. They were en route to do some test work at Phoenix. We left together; they were on their way to Phoenix and my instructor and I headed back to Shawnee to shoot some more approaches. It was just a brief encounter, but another great benefit of being a private pilot.

Jerry McMahan, AOPA 2966178
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

When I first joined AOPA back in the 1960s it was about grassroots general aviation. It seems like now all I read about are people like these rich NASCAR drivers and their private jets and helicopters! I am an airline pilot and hoped to be able to one day afford to get back into general aviation, but it seems to me it is just for the rich people nowadays. I would sure like to see more articles about average people (i.e., folks who make less than, say, $100,000 a year) and how they can manage to stay in aviation.

Mickey Young, AOPA 0387821
McKinney, Texas

Those magnificent flying machines

The other day my son the pilot walked by and flung AOPA Pilot at me and said, “Go to page 76.” I flipped to the page and was met with Barry Schiff’s very nice article about Javier Arango’s collection (“ Those Magnificent Flying Machines,” March 2009 AOPA Pilot). It was a good, concise piece that explained what all the excitement is about concerning these old airplanes (or repros with real engines, as the case may be). Arango is a friend of mine, and I’ve been up to Paso Robles many times. I’ve even joined the small club of living folks who’ve aviated behind a real, genuine, belching, snarling rotary engine when I got to go up in the Sopwith Strutter. I’m a member of an even smaller club—nonpilots who’ve had the experience. Being an aviation artist who does a lot of World War I subject matter, this really gave me a leg up on understanding, at least a little, of what the early aviators felt (and smelled, for that matter).

Mike Fizer’s photography was also great to see—especially the shot of several of the airplanes pulled out of the hangars at twilight. He captured some of the magic of the little slice of paradise outside of Paso Robles. Being an artist, I thrive on inspiration, and Schiff’s article provided a dose of just that.

Robert Karr
Westminster, California

After 65 years as a “student pilot,” reading, studying, and learning, I believe Barry Schiff’s historical account of “ Those Magnificent Flying Machines” is the most riveting, memorable, informative aviation gem I have ever seen.

Jack Parnell, AOPA 134542
Collegedale, Tennessee

Youth movement

Dave Hirschman’s article in the March issue of AOPA Pilot, “ Let’s Go Flying: Youth Movement,” brought back a lot of great memories.

The young men in that article reminded me of myself and five of my good friends. We all started flying when we were in our mid-teens, just like the young men in the article. We would spend hours at Gene’s Flight School in El Paso, Texas, where we were mentored and trained by Gene Dawson, who still has the flight school today. We would fly together when we could and if we were not flying we would hangar fly.

My friends and I continue to be active in the aviation industry. Two fly for Southwest Airlines, one flies Gulfstreams and Citations for a Fortune 500 corporation. One became an engineer and was designing the latest glass cockpit modifications for light GA aircraft, and one now owns his own flight school in El Paso.

We have all married and started families and all have busy lives, but we still talk when we can, share great memories of those times, and when we get together, it is like it was yesterday. It is all because of our common love of flying. Just like the boys in the article, we had the support of our parents—some who flew and some who didn’t—and none of it would have been possible without the support of our mentor and friend Gene Dawson. Times are tough; I hope these young men are able hold on to their dreams and pursue their love of flying.

Jim Dunn, AOPA 935314
Flower Mound, Texas

The owner-hindered annual inspection

Great title and article—“ Waypoints: The Owner-Hindered Annual Inspection” (March AOPA Pilot). Both owner/pilots and pilots in general need to know as much about any aircraft they fly as possible. If nothing else, it will help them describe problems more accurately.

One minor technical detail: An A&P cannot sign off an annual. It takes an AI or IA, take your choice, and they also have limitations on what they can do. Therefore, an owner or other unlicensed helper cannot exceed the limitations or authority of the supervising mechanic. If you want to work on the gearbox of your GTSIO-520, you will need an AI to supervise you (and I hope he knows what he is doing, also).

Of course, some of the time, these are the same people or they are working under the supervision of the authority needed for the work performed and
the owner can piggyback onto that arrangement. This is my lengthy explanation for a minor point.

Bill Zollinger, AOPA 569727
Memphis, Tennessee

Tom Haines replies: Adrian Eichhorn is an IA so he could sign off on the annual and oversee me as I got in his way.

Ice bridging redux

A few years back I had an opportunity to fly a winter trip in the Midwest with ceilings at 8,000 feet and with temperatures just below freezing at that altitude with warmer air below. I decided to learn a little about in-flight icing and test the very theory Thomas A. Horne discussed in “ Wx Watch: Ice Briding Redux” (March AOPA Pilot).

I was flying a turbo Cessna 210 certified for flight in know icing. ATC let me climb up into the icing ceiling and I immediately started to accrue rime ice. I activated the boots at a point that I would consider too soon and the ice just pushed out and stayed, although some did shed.

ATC let me back down into the warmer weather and I waited until all of the ice had melted (sublimated?) off. I then got ATC permission to climb back into the ice. This time I waited until I had a nice layer of ice accrued. I could see the impact of the ice accretion in the slight pitch up and airspeed impact and I activated the boots. I got a much cleaner wing. ATC then let me down out of the ice.

I flew home convinced that activating the boots too early could be a problem. My experience and thoughts.

Gary Reynolds, AOPA 846251
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I have been reading Thomas A. Horne’s weather articles in AOPA Pilot lately and his article has now moved to the first article I read every issue.

Weather issues are so often dumbed down for pilots in order to explain complex phenomenon as simply as possible. I think it’s great that Horne gives pilots some credit and takes weather to a more advanced level for us.

I think that many pilots out there crave this advanced understanding of the atmosphere in which they fly, but don’t know where to find information somehere in between basic aviation weather publications and advanced meteorology textbooks.

Keep up the good work.

Dan Murphy, AOPA 5704117
Columbus, Ohio


In the April issue of AOPA Pilot, an editing error caused the publication of an incorrect answer in Barry Schiff’s “ Test Pilot.”

The answer to question 5 should have read: “He can turn the altimeter-setting knob until the altimeter indicates sea level. The ambient atmospheric pressure will be indicated in the Kollsman (altimeter-setting) window, and this is what the manifold pressure gauge should indicate when the engine is not running.” AOPA Pilot regrets the error.

In Rod Machado’s column “License to Learn: Dave Gwinn” (March AOPA Pilot), the author refers to the late Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz as “Paul Heinz.”

AOPA Pilot regrets the error.

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send us an e-mail. Please include your full name, address, and AOPA number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.

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