A beautiful little French retractable with a certain je ne sais quoi
By any measure, the sky around us is an aviation mecca. For one week each spring, the weeklong Sun ’n Fun Fly-In brings thousands of flying machines and several hundred thousand people to warm, comfortable central Florida.
The sun has barely broken the eastern horizon, and the Dixie Chicks are just finishing the song “Wide Open Spaces” on the studio monitor. The on-air light flashes as Dan Stroud turns to his microphone, “You know, Dave, when my wife got home last night, she asked me to take her bra off.”
For every high-profile air-show act, like Patty Wagstaff or Sean Tucker, there are dozens of pilots scattered around the country who dream the dream. But few have pursued that dream as relentlessly as Alabaman Greg Koontz has.
This four-seat turbocharged composite is now the fastest production piston single in the world
For many of us, speed is the ultimate narcotic. Some pilots even regard it as an aphrodisiac that induces a level of pleasure unavailable from any other source. Well, okay, almost any other source. Trouble is, speed is an elusive and expensive quality. It becomes more and more difficult to achieve as the envelope expands, primarily because drag multiplies as the square of speed.
As owner of one or another four-place airplane for the last 40 years, I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve used all four seats for people. Like most aircraft owners, I’ve consistently purchased at least two seats more than I need, so far, at least five times. Apparently, I never learn.
The brainchild of an Italian designer, this classic airplane exudes a rare combination of style and substance
It’s almost inevitable that Italian airplanes are compared to Italian automobiles. You can’t look at the smooth, sculptured lines of a Marchetti SF-260 or Partenavia P68 without thinking of a Ferrari or Maserati.
You can spend as much or as little as you want to romance an open-cockpit airplane
Ask anyone who has actually worked an open-cockpit airplane for a living and most will tell you the same thing: Open-cockpit airplanes can be a pain in the butt. Yes, you can hear and feel exactly what the airplane is doing, but you’re freezing part of the time, sweating part of the time and getting your brains beat out all of the time. In the old days, open cockpits were simply drafty, not romantic. Why, then, are more open-cockpit sportplanes flying today than at any time in the last 50 years?
Low time, any time could be the best time to own an airplane
“I’ve sold airplanes to student pilots with two or three hours in their logbooks,” says Jim Sherman, regional manager for Premier Aircraft Sales. “In the past couple of years especially, half of my clients have been low-time pilots, first-time buyers.”
Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall mountains in a single bound, look, up in the flight levels, it’s the 230-plus-knot certified Lancair single!
Any aircraft manufacturer who is serious about marketing big-bore singles for global application has got to at least consider turbocharging. There’s just too much of the world that lies a half-mile or more above sea level to ignore that market. Sale of successful heavy-breathers have proven that there’s money to be made in marketing for pilots who need to operate from the middle density altitudes, if not necessarily in the flight levels.
Maybe it isn’t the fastest 140 in the world…but then again it might be
The very nature of Cherokee 140s wouldn’t seem to lend itself to speed. After all, the airplane made its reputation based on a docile stall and some of general aviation’s most benign flying qualities. The littlest Cherokees have always been regarded as among the gentlest of trainers, so universally respected for their predictable manners that some instructors actually criticize them for being too easy to fly.
An addiction to flying leads a pilot to a Cessna 175
Greg Carter—standing by his pristine Cessna 175 Lark, parked amid the 2,000 show planes at the 2003 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.—tries to tell me why he’s so happy to be here. “Well, you know, I tried to quit flying once. I really did. But after a while, I found out that I just couldn’t do it.” This is how first-timer Greg Carter begins the story about how he and his wife, Barbara, flew their Cessna 175 Lark to the AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh.
Whether you equate it to the search for the Holy Grail or a textbook example of caveat emptor, with a little perseverance and luck, you can still find a great deal on the airplane of your dreams—if you know where to look
Whether the stories are real or just urban legends, sooner or later, every hangar-talk session turns to a tale of someone finding that cherry-red Bonanza sitting in a barn in the middle of nowhere and the farmer selling it for $5,000. While stories like this are much more fiction than fact, a question remains: How can you find that undervalued gem that will ensure your place in aircraft buyer’s lore? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
When you have to pay for fuel, repairs and overhauls, you’ll want to treat your powerplant to the values of science, not hearsay
Today, bookstores have shelves of self-help and how-to books targeted at people just like me. You know, books like Brain Surgery For Dummies, Taxes For Dummies or The Idiot’s Guide To Juggling. There is one guide, however, that you won’t find in your local bookstore or, unfortunately, at your local airport. The Advanced Pilot Seminar (APS), better than books like Engine Management For Dummies, can only be found in Ada, Okla.
Adding more power to a Beech A36 translates to more speed and fun
Hot-rodding is fundamental to the American soul, and it isn’t merely confined to car buffs. Pilots, too, have a need to go faster, farther and higher. It’s an unending quest for most of us, who want more out of our flying machines. And the best way to fulfill that need is by adding more power to an airplane that we already love to fly—which translates to more fun and more speed.