A number of recent airworthiness directives for the general aviation fleet seem to be directly related to the aircraft’s age and flight time. So when is it safe to fly an aging plane?
In just the last few years, a series of T-34s, the military equivalent of a Bonanza, have suffered wing separations. An emergency airworthiness directive (AD) grounded the fleet. Just a couple of months ago, a well-maintained T-6, a World War II trainer, lost a wing doing maneuvers over Florida. With the general-aviation aircraft now averaging just less than 30 years of age, how can you tell if an airplane is safe to fly?
Its new diesel aircraft powerplants are bringing Jet A to GA
The diesels are coming…the diesels are coming—to general aviation, that is. And the company that’s leading the charge isn’t one of general-aviation engines’ “big two.” No, it’s a relatively small company that has its sights clearly set on relieving your dependence on avgas.
Airplane tires are a breed unto themselves. A tire on your car has it easy compared to one on an aircraft. Your car doesn’t drive along a sun-baked, 120-degree F taxiway, then climb into sub-zero temps several miles above the Earth, hanging in a 100-mph wind, then come down and smash onto the ground at 80 miles an hour, maybe even bouncing a few times. Not just any tire is up to the mission.
The newer generation of pilots may not remember that Piper had a proud tradition of building turboprops long before the advent of the company’s current flagship, the Meridian. As far back as the mid-1970s, Piper was selling Cheyennes, and true Piper trivia buffs like to remind us that the company also built a turboprop version of the P-51 Mustang called the Enforcer. Piper attempted to market the fire-breathing Enforcer to U.S. and foreign governments as an economical, military ground-pounder. (The Enforcer mounted a whopping 2,455 shp Lycoming turbine out front and could carry a range of ordinance.)
Private and sport pilots alike have driven the market to new heights
Looking back to Sun ‘n Fun 2005, it’s fair to say that was when the light sport aircraft bell was rung, and since then, they’ve been off to the races. In the short four months between early April and early August, 14 new aircraft received airworthiness certificates in the special light sport aircraft (S-LSA) category. Although several of these airplanes have been flying in Europe for years and the number of additional new aircraft receiving approval will certainly slow down over time, the figure is remarkable nonetheless.
By the time you read this, I will have completed a two-week vacation trip circumnavigating most of Alaska and some of Western Siberia with an Indiana dentist, Dr. Bill Grider. (Hey, it’s a tough job, but…) Alaska is my kind of place, and despite a dozen trips around the state, I’m always eager to return.
Socata’s TBM 700C2 tops the glaciers on its way to sunny Florida
High and wide, we cruise above the forbidding white ice cap of Greenland at 28,000 feet and 300 knots groundspeed. I half expect a flight attendant to bring me a glass of pinot grigio and a plate of Camembert cheese. Except there’s no flight attendant. Drat! Next to me, über ferry pilot Margrit Waltz checks the instruments, nods to herself in satisfaction, pops one of her favorite German salty licorices into her mouth and regales me with another tale from her storied career delivering aircraft all over the world.
A tale of two P-51 Mustangs attracts a gathering of warbirds
The P-51 Mustang is almost universally regarded as the best fighter to emerge from World War II. Talk to Bob Hoover, Chuck Yeager, Bud Anderson or any of a hundred other military test pilots, and they’ll tell you the airplane was nothing less than a stroke of genius when it was introduced in 1942.
This Skylane develops full power all the way up to 20,000 feet
This Skylane develops full power all the way up to 20,000 feet. Like many of you, I’ve logged my share of hours in C-182s of one description or another, fixed gear and retractable, normally aspirated and turbocharged. By any measure, Skylanes are nothing short of wonderful machines, blessed with docile handling, reasonable performance, good reliability and (in many cases) true, full-fuel, four-place capability.
The aircraft market continually changes, creating new low-cost airplanes for pilots who dream of owning their own plane
Compiling any list of the 25 best bargain buys in general aviation is almost guaranteed to ruffle some feathers. Our choices aren’t always going to agree with everyone else’s. No matter how much we try to be fair and impartial, our selections have to be at least a little subjective. We’re probably as subject to partiality as the next pilot, even if we’re allowed a broader frame of reference.
Any list of general-aviation evergreens is bound to include certain airplanes: The Cessna 170 and 172 would be near the top of the list; Piper’s venerable Super Cub would be a strong contender; Beechcraft’s straight-tail Bonanza would definitely qualify; and the Piper Cherokee Six also would likely make the list.
As the market comes to a boil, three finalists are vying to become the first certified Very Light Jet
We’re about to find out if the Very Light Jets (VLJs) will be the dominant force in general aviation that some people predict. CEOs Jack Pelton of Cessna, Vern Raburn of Eclipse and Rick Adam of Adam Aircraft think it will. Within only about 18 months, we’re liable to see three different models of VLJs certified and delivered to the market.
For a pilot who has owned them all, only one stole his heart
Speed is a mission in itself; in fact, speed is the essence of flying. The faster you go, the faster you go faster, or at least most of us want to. Terry Williams of Fort Worth, Texas, goes faster than the majority of us in his Mooney 252.