The cockpit of an airplane with the soul of a sports car
Have you ever driven a Ferrari? A Ferrari is like no other, a bit hard to climb into, but once you’re there, you become part of the car. Acceleration, braking, turning, a Ferrari does everything fast, with a solid in-control feedback you feel in your whole body. It looks as fast as it drives.
There are a few airplanes that deserve better than they got. The Comanche 250 is one of them.
The Comanche was conceived in the late ’50s when Piper and the rest of the industry was playing catch-up with the premier four-seat retractable, the Beech Bonanza. Piper’s Comanche was introduced as both a 180-hp and a 250-hp model, sporting four- and six-cylinder versions of the same engine. The former was planned to compete with Mooney’s wood-wing and tail Mark 20A, the latter with Beech’s successful V-tail, along with the dark horse Bellanca 260 and Meyers 200.
Learning acrobatics can help you straighten up and fly right
Every job has its perks. Airline pilots, for example, fly practically free all over the world, doctors and nurses have the inside track on good health care, Formula One drivers are privileged to drive some of the most exciting cars available and are well paid for it, building contractors can live in lavish luxury at a fraction of the cost you and I might pay, and so on.
A friend of a friend knew the pilot of a King Air that crashed, killing six of the seven people on board, so I was asked to be on the lookout for the NTSB’s final report on the accident. The thinking among those who knew the pilot was that there had to be some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure or a series of problems with the plane and avionics, far beyond the coping capabilities of any mere mortal.
“Baron Zero-Two-Foxtrot, the biplane ahead of you is in the pattern and will be turning on crosswind shortly. Turn inside and above him,” said the tower at SDL Airport in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Pitts Papa-Bravo, when you turn, you’ll see a Baron inside your turn and above you, but he should be no factor.”
With a simple flick of a switch or a pull of a handle, pilots become empowered to instantly change the shape (and in some cases, the size) of the wings. Imagine! Altering the aerodynamics of the wing and the flight characteristics of an airplane, all while in flight. By not understanding flaps thoroughly, pilots lose the ability to take full advantage of their capabilities, and under some circumstances, it can compromise safety.
Flying into and out of these airfields demands much more than just knowing the procedures
Operating at uncontrolled or non-towered airports is something we all do and probably do often enough that we get so used to what happens at our “home ’drome.” We figure that operating procedures around these airports shouldn’t be as strict as controlled airports. After all, who’s watching us and what are the chances that there will be another airplane in the pattern, especially in such a remote area?