George — A new autopilot makes the trip easier

In June, I flew my plane 38.4 hours, of which 37.3 were all cross-country. I was in IMC for 15.9 of those hours and shot two localizer, two ILS, and two GPS approaches — and all six were to within 100 feet of minimums. My personal airline had a 100% dispatch reliability and on time record for those trips, but I did all the work. Well, maybe not all the work. I had George to help me.

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Considering companions — Two hours of truth telling goes a long way toward making them more comfortable in the plane

As July rolled around this year, so did another chance to host a regional fly-in for Cardinal owners. The North Carolina event has taken on more of a training emphasis and it’s gratifying to see how many owners traveled great distances to partake. People came from as far away as Oakland, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and the northeast this year for ground and/or flight recurrent training and safety seminars. A lot of training took place in the three days of the fly-in, meaning it took me another three days to catch up on all the paperwork.

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In the zone

My Cardinal RG recently returned to service after a pretty extensive annual inspection. The 12 months leading up to that annual were good because not one trip was canceled due to maintenance problems and only one trip was delayed.

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Magic Formula? — No, but educated guesswork is required to figure hourly operating costs

As a result of my recent columns about cost of operation, I was asked if I had a “magic formula” for my calculating those costs. No, there is no magic formula. Certainly some “educated guesswork” has to be employed where specific numbers are not available, but there is nothing magic about it. So, for this issue, I will share my chart for determining actual or anticipated cost of operation.

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Diving into flying, Part 2 — the Bahamas

In the last issue, I addressed how many pilots are also SCUBA enthusiasts, and how flying to dive destinations can satisfy both interests in one trip. I also mentioned that I would soon be returning to the Bahamas to try out a new destination, once I figured out where that would be. The excellent response I received from that column only enforced my belief of the flying-diving connection.

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Canadian Connection

What better way to end another great year of traveling in my Cardinal RG than a December business trip to Canada? (Yeah, I know, a better way might have been a trip to the Bahamas.) Wheels up from my Rowan County, N.C., airport (RUQ) base at 1 p.m., with an OAT of 55°, and 3.5 flying hours later (and a 35° temperature drop) I’m landing after a back-course localizer approach in snow at the Waterloo Airport in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Operating cost confusion — Know your numbers because it is a most important factor when you buy a plane.

In my April column, I addressed the dilemma many inexperienced aircraft purchasers encounter when they consider only the purchase price of a used plane but not the associated operating costs that go along with it. The trap, as stated in my article, is that for an arbitrary $50,000 purchase price, a buyer could obtain either a 1977 Cessna 172 or a 1960 Cessna 210. Each would have about the same airframe time, half of the engine time used up since overhaul, and decent but not state-of–the–art avionics. The point was that the purchase price is an attractive lure for the 210, with all its extra room, speed, load carrying ability and climb. But what hurts so many owners is the considerable amount of extra money it takes to run one of these bigger, older, higher performance singles, or even twins.

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East to Edenton

For my wife, it had been one of those miserable weeks. By Friday, she was stressed to the max, being driven nuts by her job as a commercial property manager. In contrast, it was a pretty good week for me. It was day five of my seven-day-off cycle in my work as an EMS helicopter pilot. I spent the entire five days holed up in my video-editing suite completing an aviation safety video and I was ready for a change of pace. Time to go flying. I wanted to give my wife a mini-vacation to a surprise destination. But where?

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