Going Direct: How I’m Gearing Up For Flying Season`

A new plane, a new season and lots of reasons to go gaga over planes.

There’s been so much noise politically in aviation these past few months that we’ve been so busy protecting our freedom to fly against some very real threats that it’s been too easy to forget the flying part, which is, after all, the reason for all the concern.

There are, luckily, a couple of good shows coming up in the next month, Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, the first week of April, and the AOPA Regional Fly In in Camarillo, California on the last weekend in April. Both events promise to offer lots of opportunities to hang out with fellow pilots, gawk at the beautiful flying hardware both brand new and vintage, and to hit a few educational forums along the way, too.

I’ve been gearing up for these shows by fixing up my new airplane, which is the opposite of new. I’ve had my Cessna 182G Skylane for almost a month now and so far, most of my work has been research, looking to see what are the best safety, utility and comfort investments I can make in this remarkably well-preserved old bird without breaking the bank. At Sun ‘n Fun I plan to spend a few spare hours when I’m not off chasing stories and flying new planes to visit with a number of exhibitors to talk about some very specific things I want to do and browse around to see if there’s anything good I’m missing out on. I’m thinking my wallet will be substantially lighter by the end of the week and the Skylane will be in substantially better flying shape. At least I hope to have made the purchases to make that happen before long.

Like you, some of the purchases I’ll be making will be through the online marketplace. Sporty’s has some Rosen sun visors that have my name on them and Aircraft Spruce & Specialty has about a dozen gadgets I’m positive my Skylane can’t live without.

I’ll be covering the story of my Skylane’s renovation in the pages of Plane & Pilot, and you can expect a brand new panel with some cool stuff you’ve never seen before. While I want to keep some vintage touches on the plane—it is a 1964 model—I fly IFR on a regular basis and the truth is, you can’t fly instruments as effectively, safely, or into as many airports with steam gauges as you can with some more modern, digital instruments. So keep your eyes peeled for my report on that project, too.

Two things I’m glad I won’t be investing money on soon—I am knocking on wood as I write this—are the engine and airframe. The engine and prop have just over 300 hours on them each and the airframe has fewer than 3,000 hours total time and not a spec of rust and a 15-year-old paint job that looks like it was done yesterday. As much as I’d like a three-blade Hartzell prop for my 182, my two-blader is like new. The O-470—is in great shape, as well.

I’ll also be writing about how the value proposition for light aviation is changing and will continue to change. Planes like my new Skylane are the perfect test cases, which, in case I haven’t hinted enough, is a big reason I got it.

The bigger reason? To go flying, of course.

If you want more commentary on all things aviation, go to our Going Direct blog archive.

5 thoughts on “Going Direct: How I’m Gearing Up For Flying Season`

  1. Your commentary on the varied subjects are indeed interesting. Good to hear you found a ’64 with the low times you mentioned. As an A&P, I know how important that issue is, particularly if the ac has no damage history. I do take exception to the IMC vs. steam gages thing. I had an old (1967) A-36 with Narco 360s & Collins gages & a wing leveler that I flew 200 & a half approaches with ease.
    Have a good visit to Sun & Fun.
    Regards, Ric Lang

  2. One of the retrofit items I hope you’ll consider for your new bird is an upgraded restraint system, if your plane still uses single lap/single shoulder belts.
    Following a “one-fatal, one badly injured” accident I had not long ago, I made a list of what I’d do differently. Replacing the old lap/shoulder belts with a good four or five point system was high on the list. Better restraints would likely have saved the right-seater’s life, and spared me a lot of pain/healing.
    You’re too valuable an asset to the GA community to risk to old restraints, Robert.
    Have a great time in your “new” oldie! I enjoy your writing.

  3. Great minds! It’s first on my list, a four-point harness from BAS for each front seat. A pretty big check to write but great peace of mind. Should be arriving next week.

  4. Hey Ric, I hear you. The ILS is a no brainer with that setup, I agree. But there are all kinds of safety hedges with new gear, and I hate betting my life that an iron gyro isn’t going to suddenly give up the ghost. This is not to mention traffic alerting, terrain avoidance, weather in the cockpit and engine monitoring equipment, none of which my Skylane has…yet. I love the craft of the old IFR, and I respect people who’ve been there and done that, as I have too, for years, but I think these new advances are here to stay. In any case, thanks for the note. And for giving me a little Bonanza envy in the process. 🙂

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