Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shut Up And Fly

There’s no excuse to stay on the ground

A t a recent hangar party, I met a woman who owns a very nice Piper Cherokee. Our conversation got around to—surprise—flying, and she revealed that she had only flown her airplane 28 hours over the previous year. I wasn't completely shocked because I've heard this before, but when you think about it, 28 hours is just a little more than two hours a month, and that's barely enough to keep the engine corrosion-free or to keep the oil and fuel lines lubricated. There's just nothing good about an airplane sitting around and not flying. And it sure isn't good for the pilot, either.

Some pilots like to putter. They get to know their airplanes and save money on maintenance. But sometimes, they're working on them so much that they rarely fly. My hangar neighbor loves to putter with his very nice Mooney. It's a great thing for him as he recently retired from his aerospace career and now has the time to devote to his Mooney. But, for some reason, the more he works on it, the more things keep leaking and the more things need to be fixed. I said to him one day, "Paul, if you flew that thing more often, you would have a lot less to fix!"

Pilots are goal- and mission-oriented people. Once we get a pilot's license, it's important to make flying a part of our lives in some way. Personally, I never wanted to just "bore holes" in the sky—I thought it would be "boring." I knew I didn't want to fly just to have lunch forever, and I might not have continued flying if I hadn't become a CFI and then gotten involved so heavily into aerobatics. Like most of us, I needed a mission.

Along with my aerobatic airplane, I always have a support airplane to haul equipment to air shows—ribbon-cut poles, brochures, spare parts and all of the other stuff that won't fit in the Extra. We also use the airplane for media and photo flights. My B55 Baron was specially modified for photo work, and we did a lot of photo shoots for major magazines and with well-known aviation photographers.

My support airplane now is a pretty little red, white and blue 1959 V-35K Bonanza N5300E, and it's a delight to fly. We've found it makes a great photoship because the V-tail doesn't get in the way of the camera like the straight-tail A-36 or a Baron. Sure, I put some mileage on it, but aside from air shows, I've found a lot of reasons to put more than 28 hours a year on it!

I've flown the N5300E back and forth to California for fire season when I was based at KGOO, KSTS and KCIC, and it's the only way other than driving that I can bring my dogs and parrot, Buddha, with me. Flying the Bo is quicker, less expensive and 20 million times better than driving.


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