Fall Update – It’s All About the Flying Club

I’ve missed not having a plane to fly, so I re-applied for membership in the Penn Yan Flying Club and was voted in as a member at the annual September dinner meeting. I hope to stay more current as a pilot as I balance time, money and weather again and hopefully gain some sorely needed PIC time for the Civil Air Patrol.

At the dinner meeting I was also nominated from the floor for the “Member Accounts” position on the board of directors. The nomination was successful and I am now a board member for the club.

A week or so later the General Manager of the club gave notice that he was resigning his position. The GM position is a paid staff position in the club, so for me applying for the position didn’t need much thought. After submitting my cover letter, resume and professional references I was brought in for an interview in front of a committee of four who would determine who would fill the position.  After an hour of questioning the meeting was over. The next morning I received a call from the club president and was offered the GM position, which I accepted.

So now I am trying to sort out everything that’s expected of me as a member of the board and as General Manager and will start more one-on-one training / knowledge transfer next week. I’m working on sorting it all out and my head is swimming a bit, but I’m sure things will improve as a routine is established.

For now I am just looking forward to my weekend at LakePiseco…

How Are You Finding New Pilots? – Let me share how I do it!

Do you operate a Flying Club run a Flight Training school? How are you tackling the challenges of finding new pilots? If you are like many places you probably aren’t tackling these challenges and failing. The reason is that you assume too much, don’t think out of the box, or try the same old thing and expect change.

Let me share a few things that I have done to generate leads. Yes, I said generate LEADS because that is what YOU are looking to do. We aren’t talking huge budgets we are talking about self promotion and generating leads online.

You Can’t Promote in a Desert

You need to draw in people using the bait that attracts them to an airport and then once you get them in, they can and do tell others.

People really only think of two things when it comes to small airplanes:

  • Airplane Rides
  • Getting a Pilots License (Bucket List for the 25-45 yr old crowd)

I came to a decision awhile ago that if I didn’t help promote general aviation, nobody else would. So I threw caution to the wind and built a site called:

http://www.flythefingerlakes.com

This little one page wonder has generated 140 leads in a year and half for either airplane rides or for people interested in becoming a Student Pilot. I forward these leads to the only airport who accepted my invitation (Canandaigua) to take them…at no charge…for free. It just happened that my local airport was the only one out of 5 that I contacted who would participate or even return my email. Yes, only in our industry do you find people who don’t have an interest in generating revenue from leads that cost them NOTHING!

Next was a chance to do even more for aviation and again I threw caution to the wind again and this year I redesigned a site that I had for a few years for…again…my local airport:

http://www.canandaiguaairport.com

I was inclusive and setup a “Flight Training” page and with the help from the Flight Training school (who I send the other leads to) I received copy and promoted their flight training at:

http://www.canandaiguaairport.com/flight-training

This year this new page has generated 35 flight training requests.

So in the last year and a half I have generated 175 leads for my little local airport. I charged NOTHING, was paid NOTHING and used my online marketing experience and focused on the two things that people want to do with a small airplane. No Capital was needed to do this. A little sweat equity was all that was needed and you can freely replicate this as well for your own use.

In addition to these sites I also revamped our flying club web site (for the second time) and focused on the people walking of the street looking to maybe learn how to fly. So I threw caution to the wind and built a site without asking for permission called:

http://www.pennyanflyingclub.com

I kept it as simple as I could and clean. It’s functional for prospects and existing members. And it doesn’t fudge the numbers as far as rates or flight training costs and we talk about the responsibilities of membership. Information and rates are kept current. I even posted a repaint of one of our aircraft for use in Microsoft FSX, so you can fly the plane at home on your simulator.

There are always challenges but they can be overcome. Sure having a Cirrus SR20 for $165 / wet-based on Tach Time helps but it’s not the answer and more work needs to be done. Above all else…the planes must be affordable.

A Final Thought

I am just a pilot. I’m not rated. I don’t have a career in aviation. But I believe you need to GIVE in order to GET. And I believe it’s time…and time is running out…to give your time and talent to bringing on the next student pilot, or the next smiling child who had their first flight, or the middle lifer with a bucket list…a taste of what we take for granted. We take for granted the freedom of flight. And like every freedom, it will be taken away if we don’t use it and spread it from today’s generation to the next and to the next.

Stop waiting for the NEXT person to do it. Get involved!

PLEASE POST YOUR SUCCESS STORIES HERE

No Greater Burden (for us all)

Back in January 25, 2011 I wrote a blog called “No Flight is Routine” and I talked about a few fatal accidents that hit close to home. The first one happened to Bill Law, owner of Bill Law Aviation in Rochester, NY and had to do with fuel starvation. I was attending Bill’s ground school and just started flying when he died. As a student this was shocking. How could a guy with decades of experience and thousands of hours of flight time crash his twin on a 30 mile hop from one airport to another? How could a divine god like instructor make such a mistake?

Under “A Sad Loss”, I made a slight reference to a second story that I glossed over because I knew the people involved. This story really was about Russ Jeter and the crash of the amphibian he was flying with his son Jacob. I didn’t want to name names or get into the details of the crash out of respect for the family. Russ’s wife Kim is my ex-wife’s cousin and I had met Russ a Kim a few times here in Canandaigua at family gatherings and even flew out to Santa Barbara for their wedding in 2005. They knew I was working on my pilot’s license and would often ask how I was doing. At the time I never had the answer I wanted to give them…that I had my pilot certificate.

Anyway, the last time I remember seeing them was at another family gathering and Jacob, their son who died in the crash was there too. So when I heard of this tragedy, my heart sank, and it really brought home the fact that accidents can and do happen to anyone. Russ is a good pilot, even his wife Kim is a good pilot, and flying was one of the many things that brought them together.

So today I was surprised and saddened a bit, to hear that a video with Russ’s story was now online for everyone to learn from so that we can do our own self assessments and truly understand how important it is to be fit for flight.

Russ and Kim, I am very sorry for your loss. You did inspire me to keep pushing myself and I did earn my pilot certificate, ground instructor certificate, high performance and complex endorsements and even joined the Civil Air Patrol and went on to become a Transport Mission pilot. Thank you for helping educate us all!

– Barry

Click Here to Watch: No Greater Burden

August Update…and it’s hot…the weather is…not the post.

This post has no purpose except to share a few random items regarding me and a few aviation related, so here goes.

Carenado  – has a number of interesting planes under development for FSX and X-Plane users. Go to their home page and click on “Incoming projects” in the center of their home page. A few things of interest include a G1000 182, an SR22 and a TBM 850 that are currently under development.

DuraCharts – produces up-to-date, durable, sectional aeronautical charts for discerning pilots who demand the very best at a reasonable cost. These charts are virtually tear resistant and are manufactured to last. The printing is as sharp and clear as any you have ever seen. No more tearing from constant folding and refolding. DuraCharts are available by subscription or individually as needed and can be ordered now from this website. Visit their website or contact Gil Stimson at gil@duracharts.com for more information.

MiddlesexValleyAirport – Received a small donation and a free breakfast coupon as a token of appreciation for the gratis site I created for them a few years back. Go get breakfast and bring a few friends to this great grass field.

Biopsy – Received good news that my biopsies for skin cancer came back as benign. It took $520 to find this out, which is $520 out of the flying budget or $520 from the funds I was going to use to remove what I have. However, some people don’t get good news so I will accept it and be grateful for it…and will let it go and move on.

Canandaigua Airport – I’m attempting to monetize this site and provide additional value by adding a “For Sale” section so that I can advertise aircraft for sale on the site, as well as offer banner advertisements on the home page. In addition, Thomas Road was closed on July 27th so that construction can begin to extend the runway. I will also be releasing a Canandaigua Airport BGL scenery file for use in Microsoft FSX. I have extended the runway and have used GPS measurements for accuracy. A few more measurements to go before its release.

Slogging through the Summer

It’s been hot. We have had almost a dozen days of above 90F degree weather here in Central, New York and we only recently got a well deserved break. To keep you up-to-day on current events I thought I would post a quick note on what’s happening now…enjoy your summer!

July Update

Back in May I suspended my flying club membership due to expenses at home and cut a few other expenses. To make up for it I have been focusing on flying (not piloting) on counter drug missions. I can’t blog about those for obvious reasons, but flying in a G1000 equipped Cessna 182 has been a good experience even though I am not the pilot.

On a personal note, a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Basel Cell Carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer. This was discovered when I decided to have a few lesion removed from my face after looking that them for years…decades actually. So I am not too concerned about them being worse than they are, but I have a biopsy scheduled for Monday and hopefully soon after I will have the results. Regardless, the lesions are being removed one way or the other which will cost me money, and will push back any hope of G1000 transition training for the foreseeable future.

I’ve been aggressively promoting on Indiegogo.com/seebarryfly to raise funds for flight training, which after 26 days has produced nothing. I’m not surprised by that, it’s much more exciting to fund a film project that flight training. The campaign will run its course and anything I get out of it will go towards CAP flying and training.

On a business note, I hope to have a new program in place for my business to help increase revenue starting in September. I am putting the pieces in place now and need to conduct a few phone conferences before it can happen.

Finally, my heart goes out to Aurora, Colorado. In May of 2005 I was at the Century 16 theatre watching the final Star Wars film. Aurora is a nice place with good people, so my thoughts and prayers are with them.

Blue skies!

Your Altitude is Wrong

Every now and then during your flight training pieces of knowledge and expereince fall together only to open up a door to new questions. This article is one of those questions I had when I was studying weather – Just how much does temperature and pressure impact the altitude your aircraft says you are at? We are given baro readings by ATC which are based AT the airport, not in the sky where we are at. This works fine so long as everyone is using the same reading, like 29.92 at 18,000 and above. But in our airspace different planes are using different settings, so we are therefore flying at slight or not so slight variations in altitude. Read on to learn more about Austin’s live experiment.

Your Altitude is Wrong

by Austin Meyer, owner and developer of X-Plane, keeps a personal blog called Austin’s Adventures.

OK so I am working on the VP-400, and artificially-intelligent avionics package that continuously considers power-off glides to every airport within gliding range and will take your airplane down to the best runway within gliding range for a power-off landing at the press of a single (red!) button.

One of the things I need to know to make this system work is how high you are, and how fast you are descending.

You can tell that from an altimeter and a vertical-speed indicator, right? Oh, you are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wrong.

All altimeters and vertical speed indicators are based on pressure, and change of pressure with altitude! It is this change of pressure as you climb that winds up your altimeter, and how fast this pressure is changing that winds up your vertical speed indicator.

But here is an interesting thing about the atmosphere: While non-standard PRESSURE is always reported to us in every ATIS broadcast, any non-standard LAPSE-RATE OF PRESSURE WITH ALTITUDE is NEVER reported! I mean, listen to ATIS! Do they say: “Altimeter 29.85”, or do they say “Altimeter 29.85, with a lapse of 0.92 inches for the first 1,000 ft, then a laps of 0.90 for the next 1,000 ft, then a lapse of 0.88 for the next 1,000 ft…” and so on for the entire climb up to the flight levels?

Of course, they ONLY give the pressure, and NOT the change in pressure with altitude!

…And just as the pressure varies from standard on every flight (thus your need to enter a pressure into your altimeter) the pressure LAPSE RATE ALSO varies on every flight… but they never TELL you that, do they? And since they never correct for the non-standard pressure lapse-rate that we see every day, our altimeters get increasingly in-accurate the higher we climb, since we are climbing into air of increasingly-unknown density, since the lapse-rate WILL vary from day to day.

And, if the ALTIMETER is wrong, isn’t the VERTICAL-SPEED INDICATOR wrong as well, since it clearly will be affected by the pressure change with altitude, since that is exactly what the VSI measures? (The VSI fluctuates based on the rate of change of pressure as you climb or descend! If that rate of change of pressure is different than expected because the pressure change across altitude is different than expected, then the VSI will surely be wrong!)

So, writing my runway-seeker software, I needed to understand whether these pressure-based instruments found some way to be correct, or if they were wrong, and by how much. This would require a high-altitude test-flight in my (non-pressurized) airplane.

So, on a very hot South Carolina afternoon, it was off to 428X, where the tower controller was a bit surprised to see this little propeller airplane file IFR for FL250 (25,000 ft). He simply could not resist asking: “Just how high does that little thing GO?” This is actually a somewhat complex question that I will get to below.

So, before take-off, with minimum fuel to complete the mission on board (minimum fuel to maximize my climb abilities! Remember, the fuel in 428X can weigh a lot, with 108 gallons possible in the tanks!) my pressure-based altimeter (on my G-1000, and backed up by a static-port-based backup) correctly indicated 220 feet… within fifteen feet of the official airport elevation of 236 feet… perfect! As well, the GPS altitude on the MFD indicated 215 feet.. within five feet of the pressure-based altitude! PERFECT! With my IFR plan in place and a take-off clearance, it was full power down the runway in 428X, air conditioning ON to combat the hot, humid, sticky, 95-degree summer afternoon of South Carolina. Craft smartly airborne, I retracted the flaps and quickly set up for a lean-of-peak climb at 16 gallons per hour. Now this is interesting: At full-rich mixture at full-power, 428X burns a staggering FORTY gallons per hour!!! That is the full gas-tank in your car in maybe 20 minutes. For this reason, I always climb at lean of peak, max-lean-cruise power, and burn only 16 gallons per hour, getting maybe half the climb-rate, but the same forward speed and one third the fuel burn! Today, I set my lean-of-peak climb throttle, prop, and mixture, and eased up into the sky at maybe 700 feet per minute, setting up for the half-hour-climb to 25,000 ft to measure the altitudes and vertical speeds, both true and indicated, at every 1,000 ft from sea-level to 25,000 ft. At first, the data was sketchy because of the turbulence and winds of the low-altitude summer day, but I could still detect some alarming trends: Coming through 3,000 ft on the Garmin PFD, the GPS altitude was 3,200 feet!!! The error, at 3,000 ft, between pressure-based and GPS-based altitude was 200 feet! Lest any reader grasp at the imaginary straws of ‘instrument error’ or ‘GPS being in-accurate in altitude’ I can dis-abuse you of that notion right now! 428X is nearly new, it’s instruments carefully calibrated and tested at every annual by a shop that does not know the meaning of the word “skimp”, and the Garmin and backup altimeters were in PERFECT agreement with each other, and were in agreement with the GPS to within FIVE FEET when on the ground. There was no vague ‘instrument error’ or ‘GPS error’ here: Something ELSE was going on. As I continued the climb, the error between the pressure-based and GPS-based altimeters continued to steadily increase. The controllers had me change heading from time to time to avoid airspace as I meandered upwards, and I kept entering the latest and nearest altimeter settings from the nearest-available airport to keep the barometric-pressure setting in my altimeter as perfect as possible. As I broke though 8,000 ft, the air smoothed out to perfection, and my flight-test data became completely un-affected by bouncy air. As I climber, the error between my altimeter and true (GPS) altitude continued to widen. I was surprisingly busy working with the controllers on changing heading, constantly getting the latest altimeter setting from the nearest airport from the XM-weather in the Garmin MFD, putting on oxygen coming through 8,000 ft or so, and recording the indicated and true altitude every 1,000 ft during the climb. In fact, there were a number of times when controllers would have new frequencies or headings for me and I had to delay the readback to them to finish obtaining the latest altimeter setting or recording the latest climb data.

At 5,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 5,270… a 270-foot error.

At 10,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 10,530… a 530-foot error.

At 15,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 15,750… a 750-foot error.

At 20,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 21,150… a 1,150-foot error!

At this point, both myself and 428X were starting to struggle. Even with my oxygen on, I felt dizzy and light-headed. Was my O2 system malfunctioning? The cylinder head temperatures were departing the green and heading into the yellow, the tremendous heat from the twin turbochargers working overtime in the thin air simply too much for the engine to dissipate in the incredibly hot summer afternoon. Suddenly, the engine stuttered out to near-silence for just a moment and then came back… were the magnetos not remaining pressurized? Was the fuel beginning to vaporize? Suddenly a flashing alarm on the G-1000 caught my attention! Why hadn’t I noticed it earlier? Was I truly suffering from hypoxia? A new frequency-request was coming in from the controllers, the alert on the G-1000 indicated that I need to turn on the vapor-suppression, a pump that keeps the fuel in 428X from vaporizing in thin, hot, air before it reaches the engine, I felt dizzy… but my O2 was surely spurting in oxygen… I could HEAR it! The new controller had a new heading for me to keep me away from aircraft departing Charlotte.. I needed to record the next altitude and error… the engine was getting close to over-heat… I was already lowering the nose to try to speed up and cool the engine more, but it was not enough! The CHT’s continued to increase, and the climb-rate was starting to bleed off to near-nothing… how could I complete my test? I needed to cool the engine to get it’s temperatures back into the green, and get more power out of it to leap to 25,000 ft to finish my test, and there was only way to do that: FULL RICH mixture and FULL power. Vapor suppression ON to give a steady flow of non-vaporized, cool, liquid fuel to the engine, and easing the mixture control to full-rich to BATHE the engine in more fuel than it could actually burn, thus leaving the rest to evaporate in the cylinders and cool the engine, I advanced the RPM and throttle to REDLINE, and the engine surged with new vigor and the climb-rate surged smoothly to 1,000 feet per minute as the cylinder temperatures fell back to the green. I was still dizzy and light-headed and confused, but the airplane was surging strongly upwards, and I was still able to record data every 1,000 feet.

At 21,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 22,200… a 1,200-foot error!

At 22,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 23,200… a 1,200-foot error!

At 23,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 24,270… a 1,270-foot error!

At 24,000 ft on the altimeter, my GPS altitude was 25,290… a 1,290-foot error!

Fuel was now dumping overboard at an alarming FORTY gallons per hour, and my remaining 30 gallons was suddenly starting to look sort of thin. I was now using everything the airplane had, and curtailing my future options as the fuel dumped through the engine to give me the power and cooling I needed to power up through the hot, thin, air. I continued to use the best altimeter setting I could find, violating all rules about using 29.92 in the flight levels, because I needed to use the best altimeter setting to get accurate results from the experiment! My clearance to FL250, though, provided the buffer that I needed to avoid an altitude violation. So how high could 428X GO? At lean of peak, it can barely limp to 25,000 ft, but with full-rich mixture and full power it could easily surge well above 25,000 ft, and surely up to 30,000 ft, but the fuel would be exhausting at an alarming rate, and the pilot may be passed out inside. At 24,000 ft, I decided that was as high as was willing to go, since my clearance was to FL250, and since I was using the most accurate altimeter setting I could find, not 29.92, so there would be some error in my altitude compared to what I was assigned! Thus my need for a 1,000 ft buffer in my clearance to avoid an altitude excursion. Temperatures high, fuel low, pulse-rate elevated, O2 saturation low, I requested a descent back to Columbia. Now it was time for the second half of the experiment: Is the VERTICAL SPEED INDICATOR accurate, or is it just as bad as the altitude? The answer soon became obvious: The vertical speed was PERFECTLY tied to the altimeter. I dialed in a 1,000 foot-per-minute descent, and every 1,000 feet on the pressure-based altimeter took EXACTLY one minute to elapse. I am not exagerating when I say that going from 24,000 ft to 4,000 ft on the pressure-based altimeter took EXACTLY 20 minutes… to within about ONE SECOND. Back at 4,000 ft again, I could breathe, the engine could cool, the recorded data could sit on my pad, and it was with some relief that I landed and taxied in.

So, what were the lessons?

The lessons are:

=>Your altimeter is perfectly accurate at the airport if you enter your barometric pressure correctly.

=>At the cruise altitude of about 8,500 feet or so, your altimeter is off by about FIVE-HUNDRED FEET.

=>At that altitude, it does not matter much that your altimeter is off, because everyone else’s is off by the same amount, and you are far from the airport, and thus landing.

=>The error always seems to be off in the safe direction: You are always HIGHER than you think. Clearly, when they designed the system in 50’s, they designed the altimeters to follow the most conservative lapse-rate we could encounter, so in real-world flying, we are almost-always much HIGHER than we thought, which must be the safest error we can make.

=>The vertical speed indicator perfectly tracks the PRESSURE-based altimeter, not the true altitude, so the vertical speed indicator can be perfectly used to see how much the altimeter will change over time, the ACTUAL climb or descent rate of the plane is actually considerably DIFFERENT… at high altitudes, by 1,290 parts in 24,000, or just OVER FIVE PERCENT.

I don’t know how much this matters to you, but as I design the software for the VP-400 A-I runway seeker, all of the altitudes and descent rates will be computed by GPS, and if the altimeter disagrees with what the GPS says, I will know exactly why.

Flight Log 5/21/2012 – FORM 5 Completed

Sorry that this post is late…

On May 21, 2012 I completed my form 5 check ride for the Civil Air Patrol. My check pilot was Roland Zavada and I managed to torment him for 1.7 hours. This flight was not my finest piece of work. I’ve never been fond of check rides because as much as you are pilot in command you have someone who is telling you what maneuvers to do. The good news was that I didn’t fall for the “oh look…there’s deer in the farmers field down there” distraction on downwind. Sterile cockpit…please!!!

2001 Cessna 172S (N927CP)

The plane I used for my check ride was a 2001 Cessna 172S (N927CP) – It’s a nice plane but I only flew it 3 times (5.9 hours) before my check ride, so I guess I might know what I am doing. It matched the 172S in Microsoft flight simulator so I was familiar with the location of gauges and was quick to adapt to it. The GPS is a bit different than what I was use to and I only messed with it a bit as the last part of my check ride.

A form 5 check ride in CAP (Civil Air Patrol) is pretty much the same as any other private pilot check ride. Even though I am a pilot already, CAP requires a check ride before you are cleared to fly solo in their aircraft. By competing the check ride I am now considered a VFR Pilot in CAP and because I have over 50 hours cross country I am also cleared to be a Transport Mission Pilot which allows me to ferry planes and people around as needed for the squadron. As you gain more hours as PIC you can become a Mission Pilot at 175 hours PIC or a Flight Orientation Pilot at 200 hours PIC.

Flight Time to Date in Hours

PIC: 119.5
Cross Country: 65.4
Complex: 16.7
High Performance: 3.8
Night: 7.4
Simulated Instrument: 6.4

Total Time: 223.6
Take offs and Landings: 652 / 20 night

What’s Next…

I will be focusing next on flying along on counter drug missions and will be transitioning to a G1000 equipped Cessna 182 as funds allow.

If you care to help me acheive my goals, please let me know. CAP is a volunteer organization and many people like myself pay for our own flying time and the cost of fuel. Only approved missions are funded flights in CAP so the time I’ve spent in the air flying for CAP has been out of my own pocket and not the tax payers. I enjoy serving and hope that other pilots consider the Civil Air Patrol as an opportunity for themselves to server their community.

My CAP Uniform

Fueling General Aviation (or anything for that matter)

Now that drivers are getting sticker shock at the pump and being told there is nothing that can be done about it, they might start appreciating what we in general aviation have known about for awhile…fuel costs can make or break you.

Right now 100 LL (Low Lead) at Rochester, New York (KROC) is selling for $7.07 a gallon. This price is $3.00 more per gallon than regular unleaded gas. Now if you take $7.07 a gallon and multiply it by 53 gallons to fill up a Cessna 172S, your fuel cost comes out to $374.71 to top off the tank. If you get a fuel burn of 10 gallons an hour you are burning $70.70 worth of fuel every hour you fly, not including the cost of insurance, fees, and maintenance.

As a recreational pilot (like many) who make a modest income (like most pilots & non-pilots) I realize that I won’t get any sympathy from the general non-flying population. However, when planes don’t fly they don’t get serviced (mechanics lose jobs), they don’t get fueled (tax revenue is reduced significantly), facilities fall into disrepair (costs increase) and your local airport starts looking a like an old Wild West ghost town.

Recreational pilots have their financial limits too. Yes believe it or not we do not have bottomless wallets where we can just dig deeper to pay more…and more…and more. Already industry leaders in aircraft manufacturing are re-evaluating the American market and are ready to leap to China (with a Chinese partner) and build aircraft over there. Hawker-Beechcraft is rumored to be close to filing for bankruptcy. The American market is soft and since corporations need to go where the money is (to stay in business), you can expect more Americans…perhaps even you…to lose their highly skilled job.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…sorry…we are losing them too…to sit up and take notice to what I call “trickle up economics”. This is where you and I STOP consuming products or services due to costs causing what’s known as a recession, or a snowballing recession. As we stop becoming consumers, the industries above us who benefit from our consumption hold back, layoff, re-structure, go bankrupt or go into survival mode and run into the arms of a foreign partner (to their own peril) to stay in existence. This creates a cycle that generates a recession or depression.

Can it get worse?

If you haven’t noticed, the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is $4.00 a gallon in many places, even though the price of a barrel of oil is $105. It’s interesting because just a few years ago oil at $146 a barrel was creating $4.20 a gallon gas. Given this historical information, as shown in the graph below, it would appear that not only can things get worse than they already are…they can get far worse. Is this part of a bigger plan?

Washington politics are now forcing a cut off of oil supplies from Iran to other countries, creating highly competitive conditions for the remaining supplies of oil. Higher demand on low supply causes prices to increase…the snowball is getting bigger. Higher prices will most likely create a double dip recession. Another recession could be just enough to cripple General Aviation permanently, and if you are expecting a government bailout for Hawker-Beechcraft, my advice is to not hold your breath. Why? Simple…it’s because nobody is paying attention to the frog (General Aviation) in the slowly boiling water and they don’t care.

The question is this…when will common sense finally kick in? The common sense I am talking about is this…when will we stop killing our own economy with the policies we keep putting into place? Our turn-around time is finite. Old pilots and planes do die, so what do we have to do to fill the gap? What’s the plan? How can we bring in more student pilots when we are hit with wave after wave of poor decision making and higher costs?

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.”

– Karl Marx

Policies matter…utopian engineering takes no prisoners. Does the making of fewer useful things result in too many useful people? Not in America! We are already making fewer useful things and higher unemployment…and the exporting of our manufacturing base has been the result.

Here is an important video about economics that even a child can understand. What the video fails to show are the government policies, taxation methods, and low cost global competition that impact businesses and undermine this traditional business model. How well we can adapt to the new business model remains to be seen. Building fewer useful things seems to be creating fewer useful people who can in turn afford the few useful things that we do make, resulting in more useless people.

Terms for Hours and Overhaul Alphabet Soup!

Ever look at ads for aircraft and see a bunch of alphabet soup in the description concerning engine time, overhaul time, total time…etc? So what does 4280 TT;  920 SMOH; 1203 STOH; 1234 LMNOP stand for? To help explain this alphabet soup without going into too many details, I created a list for you to review that was based on a conversation I had with a guy who does annuals. Since I am not mechanically inclined I found this very helpful in understanding just what these ads were saying and NOT saying about an aircraft. BTW…LMNOP doesn’t mean a thing unless we use it for: Low Maintenance No Owner Present – many owners avoid keeping their plane current and legal.

Terms for Hours and Overhaul Alphabet soup!

Below are terms used in aircraft-for-sale advertisements showing the engine hours since the last overhaul were carried out are quoted. Hopefully this information will clarify what some of these terms mean and why it’s important not to confuse them.

Overhaul

Overhaul is a term used by the general aviation industry when an aircraft engine is cleaned, carefully inspected, and repaired or has parts replaced to meet service limits.

An overhaul is an overhaul as per the manufacturers specifications. There is no such thing as a major overhaul, just an overhaul, even though you will see the word “major” used to describe them.

Most overhaul’s are defined by the manufacturer with supporting documentation (usually Service Bulletins) that define what must be done and what parts must be replaced.

If an engine, for example, is advertised as overhauled, you have the right to ask how it was done. Was it done to factory new standards or to factory serviceable standards?

Only the very lower quality overhauls are done to factory servicable standards. It implies that many parts are reused instead of being replaced. This also applies to other components such as magnetos, carbs etc.

TSOH (Time Since Over Haul)

Time Since Over Haul is the number of flight hours since an Overhaul was performed.

TBO or TBOH (Time Between Over Haul)

Time Between Overhauls, an engine manufacturer’s recommended overhaul interval in hours, a rough and not guaranteed guide to life expectancy of an engine before it will need overhaul.

SMOH or TSMOH (Since Major Over Haul)

Since the overhaul process requires the engine to be taken apart, it is typically an expensive process. The value of a used engine decreases if it is close to requiring an overhaul, so used engines (and aircraft) typically list their time since overhaul or TSOH.

STOH (Since Top Over Haul)

Top overhaul is a term used by the general aviation industry when all the cylinders on the engine are overhauled or replaced with new, possibly due to corrosion.

TTSN, TSN, TT (Total Time Since New) or AFTT (Air Frame Total Time)

Total Time Since New is usually an airframe time reference for the total number of flight hours on a used aircraft.

TTAF/E (Total Time Air Frame/Engine)

Total Time Airframe and Engine(s) is usually an airframe time reference for the total number of flight hours on a used aircraft.

SFRM or SFRMN (Since Factory Re-Manufactured)

References to the time since the engines were remanufactured.

Blue skies!!!

Looking to Buy a Plane? Do the Research!

The Research Road

I have taken a great deal of time in the last couple of years in examining aircraft ownership for myself. In this update I have outlined just some of the initial research steps involved in getting clarity before there is even a pre-buy inspection. I started down this road because I saw a 1969 Cessna 182 in VERY good condition and really wanted to KNOW WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW in order to sum up an aircraft which would NOT need an overhaul. The research starts out like this…

Use the N# to contact the FAA Registration office for records of ownership (registration) and maintenance. It is cheap ($10.00) and won’t take long to get.

http://aircraft.faa.gov/e.gov/ND/airrecordsND.asp

Use the N# on the NTSB site to see if there is any accident history.

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/index.aspx

Use the N# to learn what year/model the aircraft is and who it is currently registered to.

http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Inquiry.aspx

Use the FAA free web site to download the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) for the plane.

http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgMakeModel.nsf/MainFrame

Use the FAA free web site to obtain a list of Airworthiness Directives (AD) notes on the major components of the aircraft (aircraft, engine, prop, mags, carb or fuel injection, vacuum pump, prop governor, etc)  that are listed on the TCDS, when you review the maintenance records you MUST be able to SEE PROOF that the AD notes have been complied with. If there is no proof than they will have to be compiled with as per the AD note instructions.

http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAD.nsf/Frameset

Now you will need information from the owner (real – matter of fact – backed by logbook information).

  • When was the aircraft last annulled?
  • When was the aircraft last flown?
  • What are total times on aircraft, time since overhaul (TSOH) on engine, carb, prop and all accessories.

How is the aircraft equipped? (Garmin 430, auto pilot, turbo charger?  etc) Begin looking at industry publications to try and find aircraft prices that are comparably equipped and same time. Use the AOPA listing or other blue book type listings.

http://www.aopa.org/members/vref/

Liens and Title

In the first step we talked about contacting the FAA Registration office for records of ownership (registration) and maintenance. You may request a copy of the aircraft record on a CD for $10 on-line at to review the record for outstanding liens yourself. However, this is no guarantee that a lien will be shown on the CD that you buy, especially if it’s a new lien. Keep in mind that the Aircraft Registration Branch does not do lien searches. For additional piece of mind you should contact a private company to do the search for you.  Under “AC Form AFS-750-55, List of Title Search Companies” you can find a list of companies and law offices that provide lien searches for a fee.

List of Title Search Companies

If you have any further questions, please contact the Aircraft Registration Branch directly at 405-954-3116 or 866-762-9434.  There are Legal Instruments Examiners on duty from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST to answer your questions.