Frugal pilots join the club

1963 Beechcraft Model 23 by FlugKerl2 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

One of my original 10 Tips for Frugal Pilots two years ago was “Learn from smarter pilots.”

No matter what you fly or where, there’s someone nearby who knows more about aviation than you do.

Unsolicited advice can be annoying, but finding smart pilots who can teach without lecturing is an opportunity to improve your skills — and lower your flying costs — without having to depend on just your experiences and your pocketbook. [Read more…]

Growing GA is as simple as 1, 2, 3

AOPA Flying Club

The first flying club I ever came across was in Winter Haven, Florida. I was a newly minted flight instructor back then and moved to town for my first flying job.

The club was based on a taildragger, a Champ as I recall, although time may have affected my memory on that point. It might have been a Cub. No matter. There was a club. It was successful.

Eventually that club disbanded. I’m sure there were multiple reasons, certainly one of those reasons that many of the members had purchased aircraft of their own. [Read more…]

Check your bias at the hangar door


There is sometimes a vast disparity between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Generally, we’re kind to ourselves. We understand our inner angst, pat ourselves on the back for being so compassionate, and bear the scars of our emotional baggage with considerable grace. Then again, we may be perceived as bitter, wimpy, and consistently afraid of commitment.

A fascinating example of this tendency can be found in Bernard Goldberg’s 2001 expose “Bias.”

The subtitle of the book says a lot. “A CBS insider exposes how the media distort the news.” That’s powerful stuff. It’s incendiary. [Read more…]

In search of the $700 airplane

Image 3 : Funk Model  B


The Funk Model B certified in 1939 was the last of the Ford powered production aircraft to be produced and the most popular.

Source: Dennis Parks

Obtaining an engine for a lightplane was the greatest challenge facing amateur builders in the 1930s.

The prices for light airplane engines were prohibitive for most builders. The powerplant of the average small plane amounted to 60% of the cost of the complete plane.

That led builders to look to other sources of power. Auto engines, being cheap and plentiful compared to certified aircraft engines, proved tempting — so tempting, in fact, that in the 1930s there were 200 aircraft registered using Ford engines. [Read more…]

No, your other VFR


When the weather’s bad enough to call it IFR, VFR-only pilots are grounded. Except when they’re not.

The day’s mission was to re-familiarize with a long-trustworthy companion, a Cessna 172 owned by close friends, in which I had hundreds of hours flying throughout the eastern U.S. It had been a couple of years, though, since I’d flown it and the ultimate mission was to ferry a co-owner and the airplane from the Mid-Atlantic to Las Vegas. We were planning to depart the next day, but I wanted to check out the airplane before launching.

It was based at a tower-controlled airport reporting two miles visibility in haze and 2,500 scattered. With only two miles’ visibility in Class D airspace, the field was IFR. Of course, we needed three miles just to stay in the pattern and shoot some landings under VFR. [Read more…]

Ask Paul: Does glazing mean cylinders must be honed?

Q: I am in the process of acquiring a Piper Seneca equipped with twin Continental TSIO-360-RB engines. Both engines have about 450 hours to go before overhaul.

The aircraft was last flown approximately three years ago. Technicians maintain that the cylinders have to be honed due to glazing as a result of the time elapsed since the last engine run. [Read more…]

Fair warning for Negative Ned and Nancy

Hands on training augments theoretical lessons taught in school. Each of these high school students is a certificated pilot, and having the opportunity to rebuild the engine you’ll be flying behind is a priceless gift – to say nothing of the donation of the airplane itself.

There’s a change coming in general aviation. It’s starting small, but it’s growing and if you haven’t seen the effects personally, you almost certainly will in the very near future.

If you’re prone to negativity or nay-saying and have a tendency to see the dark cloud in every situation, you might want to find someplace else to be for a generation or two. Because general aviation is being revitalized in a way that is just going to amaze you. [Read more…]

Making aviation affordable and fun

Chip Erwin’s Aeromarine LSA company will soon offer a single seat PSA called Aeromarine PS E or PS G depending on which powerplant is selected; either electric propulsion or a small four-stroke engine.

It is no surprise to anyone that aviation has become expensive. Some four-seat, single-engine airplanes retail for nearly $1 million! Those airplanes are fast, comfortable, and superbly equipped, but at those prices few pilots have a large enough budget to allow for purchase of a new aircraft.

The great news is that not all airplanes are so costly. While you may not cruise at 200 mph, an entire field of airplanes is available from $15,000 to $200,000. Yes, $15,000 for a ready-to-fly three-axis aircraft, with hundreds operating successfully. In the $65,000 to $150,000 Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) space, many handsome choices are available.

Is an LSA still too pricey for you? Or, are you wary about an airplane that costs only $15,000? Well, how about something entirely new? [Read more…]