Meg Godlewski’s piece on the Symphony 160 was an interesting read (Symphony 160: The next generation trainer, July 7 issue) and I noted with interest that the company is one that has at last recognized that many of us Americans are now a little (little?) broader in the beam. An almost mandatory requirement for two folk about to occupy the aging C-150/152, on a warm day, was a shoe horn and a can of deodorant or Lysol. Even my neighbor has added a couple inches to the width of his homebuilt Cuby. However, I was agog when I read Meg’s description of boarding the aircraft. Buns in first…then swing one’s legs OVER the stick? I am staggered that our delightful female tester made no mention of the fact that, just occasionally, a lady sometimes enjoys going for that $100 cup of coffee while wearing a dress or a flared summer skirt. My cartoonist’s mind went berserk at the mere thought of the pandemonium on the ramp, should a traditionally dressed Scot attempt an elegant entry to a Symphony! Innocent, young, fuzz-faced line boys would be among the first to determine the true answer to that age old question concerning a Scotsman’s attire…
This former military flier definitely favors sticks, feeling that the antique “wheel” should be reserved for bombers and tramp steamers, although he has flown a bomber, in the dim and distant past, that was furnished with a very convenient stick and was, therefore, considered advanced in its day! Nevertheless, sticks are only really convenient for some when the office is entered from above, as in the PT-19, PT-20, etc. In those instances, our female friends could place a foot each side of that tubular obstruction, then slide downwards with relative grace. There was an exception to that. Many times, I was turned loose with a rather drab looking aircraft that would puzzle some folk who viewed it. It LOOKED like the venerable T’cart, but there was something different about it. First of all, the engine was upside down. It was, of course, the British-built Auster, which was a much modified Taylorcraft built under license.
The traditional T’cart control wheels had been removed and were replaced by sticks. However, Auster adopted an ingenious solution to the massive interference that could have been caused between the British soldier’s hefty combat boots and the sticks. While Auster had removed the traditional push-pull control wheel and its through-the-panel shaft, they had retained that tubular bridge that traversed the cockpit, forward of the panel. Into the existing bushings on that bridge they had inserted back-to-front, L-shaped sticks that emerged from below the panel, then soared upwards to put the grips where expected by any sane, stick-loving pilot. I am amazed that Symphony Aircraft Industries, in this modern day, did not take a wider look at the considerations of their market. Aviation is no longer the sole domain of the Haggar-clad male.
In the years that I was on “the board,” many of us had possession of a very useful reference tool. It was a binder crammed full of cutaway drawings that had been photocopied from various notable aviation magazines, both US and foreign. If we ran into a thorny mechanical problem, we would be inspired to wonder how so-and-so resolved that issue. That binder, sometimes, would provide a direction for resolving the problem, often by improving or simplifying what we had seen published. A glance at an Auster cutaway would have turned on a light for someone at Symphony.
On another subject: More and more, in various magazines, I am seeing references — by people who should know better — to being forced to “feather an engine.” A quote in the story “Adam Aircraft: Delivering A500s, certifying the jet…but no turboprop coming,” in the July 21 GAN issue so informs me, in one instance. Although the folk with the obligatory dress stethoscope have grounded me for some years, I do try to stay abreast of the latest developments. However, somewhere along the line, I have missed this amazing capability of now being able to turn the cylinders edge on to the airflow in order to minimize drag. I look forward to seeing Paul McBride’s explanation of this staggering accomplishment and the extreme mechanical complexity that must be involved.
Kent City, Mich.