Tracking down answers at Oshkosh


Over the years, you may have noticed my lack of enthusiasm for many of the changes and upgrades made to the Experimental Aircraft Association‘s (EAA) Oshkosh event, now called AirVenture.

In the good old days, Oshkosh was a technical information exchange and social gathering. The primary purpose of the event was for homebuilders and aircraft owners to learn about their aircraft. It has now become a major sales event with some social and technical information mixed in.

For example, the major exhibitors are such general aviation stalwarts as John Deere, Ford, Honda and Boeing. Consequently, even the GA companies now send sales personnel to man the booths. This makes finding answers to technical questions challenging at best. [Read more…]

Can I use #1 diesel in my airplane?

I have received numerous questions from farm and ranch pilots about using #1 diesel fuel in aircraft with diesel cycle piston engines. The reasoning behind these questions concerns the availability and price of Jet A in rural agricultural areas. #1 diesel is cheaper and more readily available. [Read more…]

Why does GA get no respect?

The Wright Flyer

Regular readers will remember that my last few columns have been on concerns with the proposed new unleaded avgas. Well I am done venting on that subject for now, so I am getting off that bully pulpit until the alphabet groups and the federal agencies produce some more column fodder.

And I am getting on my soap box: Recently I was driving across the state and was listening to talk radio. The subject of the discussion was David McCullough’s new book on the Wright brothers.

The thing that got to me was not that the book described the Wrights as geniuses, but that the announcers seemed surprised at this assessment. [Read more…]

Why worry about knock in an aircraft engine?

My last several columns have been on the relationship between knock and unleaded fuels in aircraft engines. I have received several questions from people who have experienced knock in their car engines, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. They note that knock didn’t harm their auto engines, so why am I worried about a little knock in an aircraft engine?

There are a number of significant differences between auto and aircraft engines. The biggest is liquid vs. air cooling. [Read more…]

The devil is in the details with unleaded avgas

In the 1970s, the automotive world switched from leaded to unleaded fuels and the oil companies did a lot of research on knocking and how to prevent it. One of the big projects involved octane requirement increase (ORI).

In this program, cars were rated for octane requirement when new and then every 2,000 miles. The octane requirement increased until it leveled off at about 20,000 miles. [Read more…]

What’s in a name?

We live in a rural community and I have been elected to the township board for the last few years. A couple of years ago, the board applied for a grant to replace all of the traffic signs in our township. We won the grant and received the new signs.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a representative from the company that has the contract to install the new signs, and they wanted to set up an appointment for us to select new signs for our township.  I tried to explain that our township had already received the new signs.  The representative said that was ok — they would just go ahead and replace all of our new signs because it would not cost our township a cent.

I did not handle this reasoning well and immediately called several county and state officials and got it changed.  I am old fashioned and believe that wasting even federal government money is still a waste.

This immediately brought to mind the program to replace 100LL with an unleaded product.  Here the federal government and others are spending large sums of money to solve a problem that does not exist except in their minds, but will create real problems in general aviation with their “solution.”

[Read more…]

Search for 100LL replacement raises many questions

When I started to write this post on unleaded avgas, I sat down to read about the upcoming evaluation program for four candidate fuels. The more I read the more questions it raised.

For instance, why does Swift Fuels have two candidates?

But the biggest question concerned the percentage of the piston aviation fleet that the new candidate fuels will satisfy. A few questions arise, like which engines are the most critical, under what conditions will they knock, which airframe, propeller, operating conditions are most critical, and on and on.

[Read more…]