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Cessna SkyCatcher: Fun at Mach 0.162

I enjoyed the article about the SkyCatcher (“Cessna SkyCatcher: Fun at Mach 0.162,” January 2010 AOPA Pilot). The flight school where I instruct has two of them on order.

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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.

I enjoyed the article about the SkyCatcher ( “Cessna SkyCatcher: Fun at Mach 0.162,” January 2010 AOPA Pilot). The flight school where I instruct has two of them on order.

Al Marsh’s article didn’t mention anything about Cessna’s anticipated shipping schedule. The SkyCatcher is one of those aircraft that I think will be a big shot in the arm for general aviation training. I run into many a demo-flight student who could go on with training toward their dream if the price point for the rental was a bit lower. With the SkyCatcher this need would be met. So, any idea as to when deliveries will begin?

Cecil E. Chapman, AOPA 3519829
San Jose, California

Al Marsh responds: Deliveries are delayed. In 2009, as announced several years ago, there were supposed to be 10 deliveries; there was one. This year there were to have been 50. That would appear to be at risk. This year Cessna informed all position holders that their deliveries will be pushed six to 10 months because of the need to do some retooling at the Shenyang factory in China. Modifications to improve spin characteristics caused the delay. The first aircraft from China do not have those modifications, so the modifications are done in Wichita. I would not see a reason why, when those changes are made, that deliveries could not be rapidly accelerated. However, there were never more than 50 planned in 2010 even before the spin-recovery problem developed. It’s strictly a guess, but look for fewer than 50 this year. Two have arrived so far this year from China.

The cover of your January 2010 issue proclaims that the Cessna SkyCatcher is “Cessna’s Answer to GA’s Future.” If that is the case, general aviation’s future is bleak. Remember all the manufacturers’ promises of a light sport aircraft (LSA) with a price range of $50,000 to $60,000? They promised that LSAs would make flying fun and affordable again. The SkyCatcher comes in at twice the cost of that promise. So much for affordability. I hope that AOPA does not believe that a two-seat, $125,000 LSA is GA’s savior. I can excuse a manufacturer’s delusion that mainstream GA pilots will flock to the SkyCatcher; AOPA should know better.

Jeffrey L. Hall, AOPA 1277391
Diana, West Virginia

Ah, yes, the new Cessna “Flycatcher,” outperformed by the 85-horsepower Ercoupe 415 series in almost every category—providing more comfortable seating, better visibility, and greater crosswind capability, on 15 fewer horsepower, and 60 years ago! Come on, Cessna, you can do better than that, can’t you?

Elliott Brown, AOPA 118638
Reno, Nevada

How can I leave AOPA Pilot for kids to read when it is increasingly clear by my organization that flying an airplane is for the privileged? The latest example is the Cessna SkyCatcher. Made overseas, costs $100,000, has less performance than a 172 that can be had for $20,000 (which still a giant sum from my position), and is made for people operating on a specified radius from a primary airport. Where is the grassroots in that?

Sterling C. Price, AOPA 1196059
Tahoma, California

The iceway is open

I enjoyed the article by Jeff Van West in January 2010’s issue of AOPA Pilot , “The Iceway is Open.” It’s great to read how other communities cope with “unusual” airport conditions that we in Alaska assume are the norm. However, I would like to take exception when Mr. Van West writes, “But if you want to make your trip to the last official ice airport in the continental United States, don’t procrastinate.” I think he means contiguous United States, because Alaska is part of the continental United States—we have plenty of iceways in use up here during the winter.

Richard E. Sewell, AOPA 5967175
Anchorage, Alaska

Like the ritual of being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve or New Orleans for Mardi Gras, the Alton Bay ice runway is one of those destinations that tugs at the sleeve of any Northeastern pilot who has heard about the place.

My chance to visit happened last February when, after practicing approaches into Laconia, New Hampshire, my flight instructor and friend, Dennis Silverio, suggested that we give it a go. With bright blue skies and light winds, it seemed like the perfect time. I had around 100-plus hours in my 2002 Cessna Skylane 182 and with Dennis in the right seat I felt confident with my ability to get the bird on the ground. What I didn’t realize was that lack of any snow covering the 2,400-foot runway made for incredibly slick conditions where the term “braking action nil” took on new meaning. As the article so elegantly states, “Expect the slickest runway when the ice looks deep blue or black from the air.”

A short-field approach with the stall horn blaring still wasn’t slow enough for us not to share a hair-raising experience trying to get the airplane stopped before the snow bank at the end of the runway. My reaction to apply brakes only provided the opportunity to slide-slip the airplane. Engine off, doors open (a trick learned from seaplanes), and slight turn on the ailerons evidentially provided enough drag to gently nuzzle the side of the airplane against the bank before the turnoff. “Slip sliding away” described both of us trying to hold our balance on the ice as we maneuvered to turn the airplane around toward the taxiway.

Jack Tatelman, AOPA 1387576
Marblehead, Massachusetts

Dancing with Lucille

I really loved reading the article about Erickson Skycrane ( “Dancing with Lucille,” January 2010 AOPA Pilot). As a helicopter pilot, I enjoy AOPA’s magazines and love it when you can feature the helicopter side as well.

Brett Reeder, AOPA 6441021
Logan, Utah

(See “GA Serves America: Eyes in the Sky,” and “Pilots: Ruedi Hafen”) —Ed.

Feeding the Delta

The article in the January 2010 issue of AOPA Pilot was, to my knowledge, a first of its kind ( “GA Serves America: Feeding the Delta”).What Dave Hirschman wrote was honest, to the point, and without romantic clichés. The little words “agricultural ops” at the end of some airport descriptions in AOPA’s Airport Directory can mean volumes. A transient pilot who has never experienced agricultural ops in full swing can suddenly be in the middle of a beehive of activity. Ag planes may be taking off and landing in both directions on a single runway (especially those with reversible-pitch turboprop engines). They may be making approaches from all directions without radio contact and their approach altitudes are usually 200 to 300 feet agl. The departing (heavily loaded) ag aircraft, contrary to normal procedures, usually have the right of way. It can be a different world on busy days. At our municipal airport, we have two ag operators (four airplanes) and as many as three or four operators who drop in at times with their loader trucks and associated delivery trucks. There’s lots of noise, exhaust, dust, sweat, and cooperation involved.

Gerald R. Whitcomb, AOPA 1144320
De Witt, Arkansas

What’s in a name?

Because I am a devotee of useless trivia, I really enjoyed “What’s In a Name?” in the January 2010 issue. Here are a few more to add to the collection: Chance Vought/Chevrolet—Corsair; McDonnell Douglas/Hudson—Hornet; Martin/Dodge—Marlin; North American/Oldsmobile—Tornado; Northrup/Sunbeam—Tiger; Bell/Shelby Ford—Cobra; Delange/Chrysler—Nieuport/Newport.

Michael Gardner, AOPA 931012
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Your article describes car/airplane-naming coincidences. It turns out that I am an exemplar owner—perhaps the only one—of the Aztec/Aztek one, because I own one of each! Both vehicles have quirks, but have proved to be dependable, capable, fun machines.

Frank Ch. Eigler, AOPA 5114494
Brantford, Ontario, Canada

I think the various models of the Edsel might count toward an honorable mention as the single shortest-lived brand with the most airplane overlap in model names—every single Edsel model was an airplane, as well. There was the Citation (Edsel had the name before Chevy), the Corsair (shared with the F4U of World War II fame and the Vietnam-era A–7), the Ranger (various Bell helicopters), and the Pacer (Piper PA–20).

Mike Brown, AOPA 1308319
Ithaca, New York

I couldn’t help noticing that, with the possible exception of “Mustang,” the most ubiquitous aircraft/automobile name of all—“Cherokee,” as in Jeep and Piper—was missing.

Chris Moore, AOPA 322476
Sunderland, Maryland

I read with some anticipated trepidation your recent article about car/airplane nomenclature similarities. Why with trepidation? Because I fly a Cirrus SR22—some would say one of the “cooler” airplanes to own and fly—but her sister automobile of the same name? A Chrysler Cirrus minivan! Total and complete un-coolness on four wheels!

Other really cool airplanes have equally cool cars to go along with them—the Mustang, Cougar, and Malibu to name a few. You, thank goodness, did not include the Cirrus in your memorable list of airplanes with concurrent car names, and for that, we at the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association thank you for your discretion.

Marty Weiss, AOPA 999304
Woodstock, Connecticut

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 to the Editor may be edited for length and style before publication.

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