What is causing bent rods and sticking valves?

Q: I am acquainted with two IO-540 engines with 1,000-plus hours that have bent rods in the #5 cylinder and stuck valves in the #2 cylinder. One aircraft was manufactured in 2007 and the other in 2009. The oil has always been changed at 50 hours using Exxon Elite 20/50. Any particular thoughts?

RICHARD WEICHMAN, via email

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Pilot reports: The beginnings

the 1938 Luscombe 8 (N22013) is courtesy of Ty Sundstrom and was taken at Tehachapi, CA.

“After running the motor a few minutes to heat it up, I released the wire that held the machine to the track, and the machine started forward into the wind,” reported Orville Wright in the December 1913 issue of Flying magazine.

Though possibly not the first pilot report in an aviation journal, it sure is a pilot report about the oldest aircraft.

Though flight test articles became a common feature of general aviation magazines in the 1960s and on, these pilot reports on performance and handling of aircraft were rare before World War II. The emergence of flight test articles on new private aircraft owe their origins to two magazines: The Sportsman Pilot and Air Facts. [Read more…]

Take it to the bank

A few decades ago, I became very interested in electronics. The home computer was just beginning to look like a viable product and it occurred to me that devices that used to be purely mechanical were rapidly transitioning to become computerized. Once gas pumps and grocery store checkout counters stopped clacking and banging in favor of beeping and buzzing, it became clear that a change was underway — a change that I’d be better off getting in front of, rather than lagging behind.

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One dicey noise flap

A flying buddy emailed me about the big noise flap at East Hampton Airport near the tip of New York’s Long Island. In fact, I’ve been watching since The New York Times covered it this summer. Now, with federal grant assurances set to expire Dec. 31, there may be a tricky crossroads ahead for general aviation.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle… hangars in this case

The great state of California reduced the number of general aviation airports in 2014 by at least one. Specifically, Rialto Municipal (L67) was shut down on Sept. 18 to make way for a 1,439-acre residential and business center. (I know, but don’t get me started…)

From the ashes of L67, nearby Flabob Airport (RIR) will reuse Rialto’s hangars. Flabob is just 8 nm on a heading of 169° from L67… as the homebuilt flies.

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And then this happened

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Syd Jones is not your average guy. From his early adulthood, he’s been…let’s say, unique. Not content to follow the traditional path of a young man fresh out of an educational institution, Syd didn’t find the idea of a regular, stable office job to be all that appealing. Hunting for pirate treasure? Well that’s something else entirely. That sounded exciting. So that’s what Syd did. He joined forces with Mel Fisher’s fledgling band of divers and salvage experts in training and they went after the Nuestra Senora de Atoche.

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Crafting a flying club agreement

Many thousands of frugal pilots continue to fly because of flying clubs. These clubs typically include a wide variety of pilots and at least two aircraft, bringing down the price of going up by sharing the costs of plane ownership and operation.

Just as there are many types of pilots, there are many ways flying club agreements can be structured to meet the needs of a nest of persnickety pilots and aircraft owners. [Read more…]

Planes vs. birds

Landing on the Harbor Visual Runway 29 Approach into KPWM can be a 95-second joy ride if the time of day and the time of year are just right. For us, that flight, it was.

I flew the crowded 50-seat regional jet in a descending arc, starting at Elizabeth City, Maine. We traveled north along the Maine coast past the airport, giving the passengers views of the cobalt blue Casco Bay and the mossy green Ram and Peaks Islands, before we banked left and headed south along the coast, over the narrow, inky blue Portland Harbor.

“Glorious,” crowed the captain.

“Birds,” was my reply. I pointed to a small flock of large, brown waterfowl taking wing from the run-up area of Runway 29 off my starboard side.

“They’ll be gone before you cross the fence,” he assured me.

Cleared to land, I banked right into a smooth intercept of the localizer needle. Gliding over the airport perimeter, I let the jet drift left of the runway center line.

“What are you doing? Center line!”

“Birds,” I replied, just as three big birds arrowed straight for us. I evaded two before crossing the numbers. I swung back toward center line. I heard a resounding “THUNK.”

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The allure of an open door

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Amazing things can happen if you just take the time to open your door, invite the neighbors over for a burger, and let them experience for themselves what lights a fire in your belly.

Case in point…Bartow Municipal Airport (BOW) is located smack dab in the middle of the Florida panhandle. It’s not far from the tourist draws of Disney World, Universal Studios, Legoland, or the miles and miles of pristine beaches that stretch out on the east and west coast of the state. But it’s far enough from those population dense destinations that it’s surrounded by green landscapes, open spaces, and a relaxed atmosphere that has an undeniable appeal.

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