The single most consistent mistake I see first-time owners make is that they buy too much airplane. Learning about airplane buying should be like learning about airplane flying. For example, let’s say you know that your goal is to be the pilot of a corporate, twin-engine airplane. You still go to school and learn to fly in a small single engine plane. Then, as you gain experience, you can move up to the twin. Yes, I realize that you could learn right off the bat in the twin, but only the most affluent could afford that. And not withstanding money, it would also be a formidable undertaking to use that approach.
The twin-turbine Bell 412 helicopter I fly for Baptist Hospital in North Carolina sucks a lot of Jet-A. This is why when we land at FBOs, the line crews have big smiles.
Ask someone what comes to mind when the state of Texas is mentioned and the answers will surely be varied: Cowboys (both real and football players), Dallas (both the city and former TV show), the Alamo, cattle, oil, you choose.
Do you remember the days before digital watches or clocks? When we were asked for the time, the answer usually would be something like “It’s almost 2:30” or “About 1:15.” Then came digital timekeeping and the answers became “2:28” or “1:13.”
The final part of my series on upgrading the avionics in my Cardinal RG is elsewhere in this issue. For as many aircraft as I have owned over the past 27 years, this was my first experience in a complete avionics upgrade for myself and, as you may recall, the decision to part with the cash and who got the cash didn’t come quickly. But it was one of those aircraft ownership experiences that I feel truly blessed for being capable of accomplishing.
For those of us who use general aviation to travel, conversations often come up comparing the use of our airplanes to the commercial airlines. This has become a major issue since Sept. 11 and the absolute mess the commercial airline system is in right now. The growth of fractional jet ownership organizations is one direct result. But what about small plane GA versus the airlines?
In the past two issues, I have covered the decision process leading to selection and installation of the UPSAT Apollo Full IFR system in my airplane. My installation includes the GX60 IFR GPS/COM and dedicated indicator and associated annunciator panel, SL30 Nav/Com and dedicated VOR/ILS indicator, SL15 stereo audio panel with marker beacon and ICS, SL70 digital transponder, and the MX20 Multi-function display (MFD). With flight testing and certification completed, it was now time for me to learn how to really operate all this new stuff.
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.
Like many other pilots in my age group, I acquired my initial interest in flying by watching the CBS television series, “Sky King,” which aired from the mid-’50s through the early ’60s. I had the good fortune to meet the star of the show, Kirby Grant, in 1975 and we immediately formed a close friendship that lasted until his untimely death in 1985.
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.