Letters February 2000

Mo vs. Bo
I enjoyed your article on the Mooney versus the Bonanza and which is better. I owned an interest in a new 1998 A-36 and it truly was a great airplane to fly. However, if youre looking at the market segment known as HPSE, I think you need to look at the Commander 114B. With the exception of cruise speed, I dont think its a contest.

We (myself and two partners) just picked up our 1992 114B (TT-820 hours) in early November and are elated with the aircraft. I had about 90 hours in the Bonanza and I wouldnt trade it for the Commander for even money.

There are several advantages: Pilot door, cockpit roominess, trailing link landing gear, greater useful load and one disadvantage: Its about 10 knots slower in cruise. I only have one regret: I cant afford a newer one, as they have continued to make improvements since the 114B came out in 1992.

Gary Frossard
St. Louis, Missouri

Ref your article comparing Mooneys and Bonanzas. Right on. The analogy to MO (now M20P to the FAA) being likened to a sports car comes not just from its compact size, but also from its tight, responsive and short-travel controls.

Rae Willis
via e-mail

Folding Bikes
Your publications continue to set the standard for useful information. With 35 years and 10,000 hours experience, I still find nothing else that even comes close. Heres some more information on bikes for your readers. I dont own a folding bicycle, but I do own three bicycles, not counting my wifes. We are planning to buy a folding tandem from Co-motion Cycles (www.co motion.com) of Eugene, Oregon. They are not inexpensive (although there are even more expensive bikes out there). In fact, if all youre planning to do is ride a few level or gently rolling miles now and then, they are overkill.

But if you want a no-compromise, full-size bike that happens to fold, they are an excellent choice. They specialize in tandems, but also build singles. See www.co-motopm/com/travel.html for more.

Mike Weston
via e-mail

We have two Bike Fridays from Green Gear Cycling. We have not yet taken them in our airplane, as its still under construction. But I have determined that two of them will fit into the back of my homebuilt RV-8. These bikes have 20-inch wheels and fit into a suitcase. Ive taken it on commercial airliners with no problems.

Mike Robbins
Issaquah, Washington

Narco vs. Bendix/King
I wish to expand on the article Which Two? in the December, 1999 issue of The Aviation Consumer. This article may mislead readers into assuming that Narco does not provide a built-in glideslope receiver in their MK-12D+ series of navcomms.

The MK-12D+ is their version of the radio with its own tray and indicator (ID-824 VOR/LOC or ID-825 VOR/ILS) and is available in versions with and without built-in glideslope receiver and in either 14 VDC or 28 VDC versions.

The MK-12D/Cessna is the 14 VDC direct plug-in replacement version to replace the ARC/Cessna RT-308/328 series and is not available with built-in glideslope because it was intended to work with the aircrafts previously installed ARC/Cessna VOR/LOC or VOR/ILS indicator and remote mounted ARC/Cessna glideslope receiver, if installed.

The MK-12E/Cessna is the 28 VDC direct plug-in replacement for the ARC/Cessna RT-385A and RT-485A/B series radios that again were either equipped or not equipped with a remote glideslope receiver. The Narco MK-12D/R is the direct plug-in replacement for the old vacuum tube Narco MK-12/MK-12A/MK-12B series radios and again will work with existing Narco indicators and remote GS receivers.

One advantage that I think the Narco MK-12D+ has over the King KX-155 is that it will mate directly with an HSI, since it features a built-in VOR/LOC converter, which the KX-155 does not have. To be compatible with an HSI, either a remotely installed Bendix/King KN-72 converter or the KX-165 with built-in converter must be installed at a higher price than the MK-12D+.

The only disadvantage to the MK-12D+ over the KX-155-other than Narcos reputation-is that the MK-12D+ vertical panel space requirement is 2.5 inches versus 2 inches for the KX-155 or KX-165. Also, the MK-12D+ features a VOR radial readout feature that the KX-155 does not have but which can be had in the more expensive KX-165 and newer KX-155A models. My company-Spencer Avionics, Inc.-has been a Narco Master Dealer for 23 years. (I recently sold it to an employee.) Our market is single engine-airplanes up through medium-size twins. Like other dealers, I have not liked some of Narcos policies that have gained them a bad reputation.

Their current service policy is that a Narco Master Dealer can field service and order replacement parts only for those Narco products that are in current production. Out of production radios must be sent into the factory for repair since Narco will not supply any repair parts to the field dealers on these units.I would encourage aircraft owners to have your local Narco dealer send those units in requiring repair rather than the owner sending them direct to Narco because it wont cost any more and the Narco field dealer needs the credit to help maintain his Master Dealer status.

Now I want to really get on my soapbox. We have also been a King dealer for the same 23 years and have seen a noticeable decline in factory service support to the field dealers starting a number of years ago when Bendix took over King Radio Corporation.

When Bendix acquired King Radio, I made the observation that I certainly hoped Bendix would acquire the good business practices of the King Radio Corporation rather than the other way around. Unfortunately I was wrong. The company no longer provides free spares (except for customer radios still in warranty) and generally dont have many spares available unless you want a long wait, even if youre willing to pay the monthly fee. The same goes for factory exchanges.

It used to be said amongst avionics shop owners that the shops chances of survival without having a King franchise were not good. I dont think thats true anymore and unless the company can reverse its decline, its fortunes may actually decline below Narco. Garmin is the future Bendix/King, Im afraid.

William R. Hemme
Spencer, Iowa