In October, Ask Paul columnist Paul McBride, who retired after 40 years with Lycoming, received this letter from Mike Stolyarch in far-off Russia:
“In order to be completely confident in my engine, I decided to do a major overhaul of the O-435A on my 1947 Stinson 108-1. I have already found all the necessary spare parts, except the fuel pump plunger. The plunger is broken off at one end.”
“Could you tell me where can I find a used plunger, the drawings of this plunger, or exact dimensions?”
Realizing the difficulty Mike would have in finding the inexpensive part, Paul not only found it, he went ahead and bought it and sent it off to Mike.
Mike was flabbergasted at Paul’s generosity (which, Paul notes, is a one-time event, so please don’t ask him to buy parts for your plane!).
“This is the part that I need,” Mike said. “It’s just incredible how you managed to find the plunger. I’m just stylishly surprised! Thank you very much!”
Mike, who lived a few months in the United States, went on to say that he “always met sincere and friendly people.”
Besides the Stinson, which is now completely disassembled, Mike also owns a 1970 Cessna T210K, which he bought in 2015. He’s owned the Stinson since 2012. Both airplanes are based at Kalinka Airfield (UHHS), near his home in Khabarovsk, in the eastern part of Russia on the border with China.
Mike, 50, has been a pilot for the last eight years.
“Normally I use the airplanes for pleasure, such as fishing,” he said. “Also for flights to the sea coast for recreation. The Cessna T210K allows me to fly from Khabarovsk to some cities, including Vladivostok, Soviet Gavan, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, as well as some seaside villages.”
He notes that there has been some work done on both airplanes.
“For my Cessna T210K, I replaced the interior of the airplane and installed a Garmin 795, thermocouple display unit, as well as the fuel control unit,” he reports. “For my Stinson 108-1, I am currently repairing the engine, re-painting the airplane, refurbishing the airplane’s interior, and changing the flight instrument panel.”
Mike notes that there are some similarities between flying in the U.S. and flying in Russia.
“There has been friendly aviation regulation for pilots and airplane owners in Russia since 2010,” he said. “The aviation legislation of Russia is very close to the U.S., but there are certainly differences.”
For instance, there are just two classes of airspace in Russia: C and G, he reports.
“Aviation authorities require you to submit a flight plan, including in Class G airspace, and make radio contact every 40 minutes,” he said. “It is explained as a safety requirement. However, in my opinion, it sounds more like an old habit in order to control all the airspace in Russia.”
The network of airfields in Russia is not as big as in the United States, he said, adding there’s around 300 airfields in total.
“However, more and more private airfields are appearing,” he said. “Also there are volunteers who use ex-military airfields to park general aviation airplanes.”
Mike reports that he often visits the United States for business, taking part in conferences and exhibitions for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
“In the U.S., I validated my Russian private pilots license and I fly in Nevada, Colorado, and Florida,” he said. “And I was trained to get a seaplane rating.”