Plane & Pilot
Monday, October 1, 2007

Myth Bustin'


Exploring 20 aviation myths


Right up front I should post a very clear caveat: Myths within any technological field almost always have a grain of, if not truth, at least enough fact that they have some ardent supporters who swear by them. (They “know” it’s true and can prove it because a friend of an uncle knew someone who had it happen to a cousin.)" />

Myth 2 You can buy a fixer-upper airplane and save money by restoring it yourself.
This is possible, but will only work if the following are true:

• The engine is far enough from TBO that it shouldn’t need work for 400 to 500 hours’ minimum.
• The airframe has no damage or corrosion.
• You have a friendly A&P willing to inspect and sign off on your work.
• You have the appropriate skills to do the work required.
• You have a workshop/hangar in which to do the work.

This definitely won’t work if you have to hire someone to do any major work other than shooting the final coat of paint (you do all the prep).

Myth 3
Tailwheel airplanes require much more skill and are inherently dangerous.
False, busted, not true! It’s called “conventional gear” for a reason: It was the standard configuration through most of aviation’s history and is easily conquered with six to eight hours of dual instruction. What’s true, however, is that it can’t be flown with the same lackadaisical approach to aviating that the nosewheel (unconventional gear) allows. It’s also true that the majority of history’s most interesting airplanes have had tailwheels. Wouldn’t want to miss out on all of them, would you?

Myth 4
Extending flaps while turning base or final can cause the airplane to stall.
Busted! This is true only if you pay no attention to the nose attitude or airspeed. Lowering the flaps causes a nose-up pitch in some airplanes and, if it’s left unchecked and the airspeed is ignored, the speed will degrade and you’ll have a problem. Nevertheless, the same thing is true of lowering flaps straight and level. If, however, normal techniques are used and airspeed is maintained, there will be no problem. So, this myth’s only true if you make it true.

Myth 5
A few hours of aerobatic training will save you if flipped upside down on final.
A huge “maybe” applies here. A little aerobatic training breaks the urge to pull when things go wrong, but, if you’re actually upside down on final, it’s going to take more than a few hours of training to save your butt. Plus, most airplanes aren’t capable of the required push-and-roll maneuver, although they’ll come close. If you’ve had akro training, however, as the airplane is in the process of being upset, you’ll see the roll rate building and you’ll instantly go to full opposite control deflection to stop it, so you won’t get upside down in the first place. That’s the real advantage of aerobatic training: It makes you more aware of attitude changes and more willing to use full control. Plus, it makes you more precise, and it’s a helluva lot of fun.




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