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Sometimes the beauty of the whole thing called flying fills a heart with joy.Sometimes the beauty of the whole thing called flying fills a heart with joy.

Pure Magic Thanks for the great article on the Senior sailplane race (“Pure Magic,” September 2009 AOPA Pilot). Mark Twombly got it just right—a nice combination of technical detail along with the soaring technique that makes sailplane pilots passionate and may make power pilots curious.

Pure Magic

Thanks for the great article on the Senior sailplane race ( “Pure Magic,” September 2009 AOPA Pilot). Mark Twombly got it just right—a nice combination of technical detail along with the soaring technique that makes sailplane pilots passionate and may make power pilots curious. To get to fly with two (Tom Knauff and Karl Streidieck) of the best is really extraordinary. It was very ironic that Dick Van Grunsven (Van’s aircraft owner) also professed his love for soaring in the same issue ( “Flying With Van”).

The practical point here—we all love general aviation. Unfortunately, it is getting more expensive, and there is more of a land squeeze. The pilot population is getting older. I hope at some point the SSA (Soaring Society of America) can become a wing of AOPA. We need to hang together. Glider pilots will hopefully thank you for your efforts, and perhaps some power pilots can give it a try. I got my glider rating nine years ago after watching my friend’s son solo at age 14. Got hooked, bought a sailplane, (a DG-303), and am just amazed at the amount of energy out there to be used to keep these things aloft. It’s still hard to believe a sailplane has been more than a mile higher than any United Airlines jet has ever been!

——Dean Chantiles, AOPA 498440
Palm Springs, California.

The honeymooners

The September issue of AOPA Pilot magazine was terrific! My friends and I were surprised to see an article on an experimental airplane, the Van’s RV–10 ( “The Honeymooners”). What a wonderful enlargement of thinking for AOPA! It wasn’t that article alone, though. The magazine seems to be covering a wider scope of items and events. It has an upbeat attitude while facing the challenges that exist to general aviation. “Frugal Flier” is valuable to open up one’s thinking and the good old standby items are nicely done.

—Wilma Melville, AOPA 4136317
Santa Paula, California


What a great article about a wonderful doctor, a wonderful woman (physician assistant Inez Pruitt), and the cooperation of the communities of Tangier Island and the mainland ( “GA Serves America: Dr COPTER,” September AOPA Pilot). This type of article shows what general aviation can do for us—I hope you can do more of them.

—Michael F. Yates, AOPA 472450
Glen Garner, New Jersey

I just read your article about Dr. Nichols, and the use of his helicopter to serve Tangier Island residents. Dr. Nichols has given me an FAA medical, and I can assure you that he is one of the best. I have known him professionally for many years. I was involved in the original certification of the heliport at his home and at the clinic. Thanks for spotlighting such a fine person, a great doctor, and an excellent pilot. We need more stories like this put out to the nonflying public to show what a great asset general aviation actually is—and not just a play-toy for the rich! An excellent article! Please do more and let the public know what’s going on in general aviation.

Thomas Jones, AOPA 5838771
Carson, Virginia

General aviation is alive and well serving the public. This is the reason why AOPA needs to stay in the forefront and protect GA. Keep up the good work. I have been fortunate enough to fly to Tangier and treat several patients for their oral surgery needs. If it wasn’t for the airport, these patients would not have access to timely care. GA is a must and needs to be protected at all costs.

—Scott Goodove, DDS, AOPA 1343450
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Grass for gas

I read Dave Hirschman’s article “Grass for Gas” ( September 2009 AOPA Pilot). Great reporting of an exciting concept. I agree that having access to a truly renewable fuel is a great thing. My hope is that it will in fact be less expensive than comparable 100LL that we have been using for a generation now. Affordable pricing will be the key to Swift fuel securing a place in the market and gaining adoption by GA pilots. If priced too high, it will likely be a product that will languish, much like we have seen with various brands of bio-diesel.

—Dan Haskit, AOPA 5002210
Leander, Texas

Just read the article and watched the video. What a good feeling I got after reading the clear text on how this stuff came to be. I have worried for a long time about the move of methanol into our gasoline feedstocks, and the continued need for lead or phosphorus, and this wholly distilled base, coming from garbage, switchgrass, and other plant products. Potatoes, anyone? This is really good news.

—Howard N. Bunte, AOPA 1044224
Upland, California

If this proves out, it needs the support of AOPA. With the government dumping enormous sums of money for projects of dubious value, here is a chance to “get the lead out”—something the whole world would appreciate.

—Peter Mitchell, AOPA 203246
Concord, California

I have read this report and find that it is really good news. But at the same time I’m worried that the one company that could do this is in competition with the biggest companies on the planet and I’m afraid that any progress on this front will ultimately be defeated because the big oil can’t profit from it. Or they will buy it up and put it on a shelf somewhere to keep the price of gasoline up where they want it. Good news, but I’m afraid it’s doomed to failure.

—Leroy Pearl, AOPA 5689920
Wichita, Kansas

Fly high

I read “Frugal Flier: Fly High” in the September 2009 issue. While the fuel savings are true, there are other factors involved in the decision to fly low. Often people ask me how far I can fly. I tell them there are two limiting factors: one, the fuel capacity of the airplane and two, the capacity of my bladder, with two being much smaller than one. Making more stops means staying lower; why climb when you’ll be descending soon?

I’ve flown my Archer across the country more than 10 times from where I used to live in the Los Angeles area to the Midwest, Florida, New York, Canada, and Mexico so I have a lot of long cross- country time. It takes about nine hours of flying from Oklahoma City, where I now live, to the LA basin. I make three stops between them and find it to be a much more pleasant flight. It works well for me.

—Bill Murrell, AOPA 1056716
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The comparison made about flying high versus low is fine, but incomplete. My two partners and I own a 2002 Cirrus SR22 with conventional gauges, but well equipped with lightning and traffic detection plus XM weather. We fly all our cross-country trips in the 5,000- to 9,000-foot altitudes including about 20 percent of the time in actual IMC conditions. Our trips are flown lean of peak using the lean assist on the MFD. We plan for and get 160 knots on 12 gph. The author’s trip for us would be 4.6 hours with the same five-minute climb, but total fuel burn would be 55 gallons—same as the author’s high-flying trip.

Other advantages to our lean-of-peak, low-altitude trip include cooler CHT (280 to 300 F), still above the haze, above training aircraft, and we rarely see other aircraft as we fly around the Midwest and Southeast states. I like these altitudes because I can turn off the autopilot and hand fly to keep my IFR skills sharp. For the naysayers who question engine life lean of peak, the prior owner and we have 1,450 lean of peak hours on the engine with all compression numbers between 68 and 74. We fully expect to go way past the 2,000-hour TBO recommendation and hope to reach 3,000 hours in the next 10 to 12 years. Keep up the articles on how to save money flying, but compare all options available.

—John Osterhage, AOPA 1052813
Hixson, Tennessee

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot , 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to [email protected]. 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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