Letters: September 2000

No Beef Here
I don’t have a beef, but a compliment and recommendation. I recently had a carburetor problem in my 1939 WACO AGC-8 (engine quit 6 miles out) at Birmingham, Alabama. I got it going again and got back to BHM.

Cant say enough about the good service by the folks at Raytheon Aircraft Services. Bob Hemm assigned a mechanic to change the carb and let me help. (They havent seen too many 330 Jacobs.) Both stayed late to get the work completed. Its nice to come into contact with a competent and helpful facility and these folks could not have been better.

Mel Richardson
Via e-mail

Forget AirCell, Try a Blackberry
I enjoyed reading your article on AirCell in the July issue of Aviation Consumer. However, I have found a much more useful device for my needs and at a much lower cost. Its a small wireless device called a Blackberry.

First of all, my needs are narrowly defined as informing people on the ground that I am running late, Ill be in the office at 5:00 or some other short message. In short, I have little need for conducting a business discussion while piloting.

As part of our business, we acquired several Blackberry devices.A Blackberry is the size of a pager and permits the sending and receiving of e-mail messages. It operates on the Bell South wireless network and provides nationwide coverage.

However, I have noticed that at 5000 to 8000 feet, the coverage is acceptable. For instance, flying a route from Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Detroit, which might take 30 minutes, you might be out of coverage six minutes, primarily midway between each city. So you compose a brief e-mail, hit the send button and wait a couple of minutes before it leaves the device, at the worst case.

All e-mail that I receive in my office e-mail gets forwarded to my Blackberry based upon some rules that I have configured on my mailbox. All messages that I send from my Blackberry get routed through my office e-mail and a copy is placed in my sent items.

In essence, I have one e-mail box with a remote way of accessing it via the Blackberry device. I have found that when I am traveling, what piles up most is my e-mail. The Blackberry permits me to handle much of that while I am traveling, both on the ground and in the air.

The cost for the device is $300 to 400 and the service is $40 per month. However, since I already have the device for business reasons, the fact that it will also work in the airplane results in an effective cost of $0 for the occasions that I need to send or receive a message in the airplane.

In short, I already have more cellphones (analog, digital, tri-mode etc.), home phones and office phones than I can really use. Why would I want an air phone for use only when I am in the airplane if I can accomplish what I need with a Blackberry?

You can find additional information about this product at www.blackberry.net/home/main.shtml.

Dennis Schumaker
Via e-mail

Mooneys Free Ride
For a pamphlet that has aviation and consumer in its title and that loudly proclaims and prides itself as being free from the influence of advertisers, your Mooney piece in June is a large disappointment.

Companies are occasionally unresponsive is laughable and your conclusion that we don’t see a consistent pattern of warranty dodges by Mooney certainly misses the point of view of an aviation consumer.

When a company fails to answer the phone or respond to written complaints, takes months or even years to address legitimate disputes and only then when prodded by legal action-and leaves the purchasers of hundreds of thousands of dollars of machinery on the ground-I certainly can understand why the aggrieved owners have taken to the courts.

You should be filling amicus briefs to support them instead of apologizing for the egregious behavior of the company. Lets see a $500,000 airplane that doesnt fly can be handled by $500 in airplane tickets but only if you bought it after May of this year. Youre kidding.

This screw the customer attitude isn’t confined to Mooney, alas. It is pervasive throughout the light airplane business where monopolies or cartels do not have to worry about competition.

I cant wait until Aviation Consumer covers the current TCM crankshaft A.D. fiasco. With the proviso that improvements are in the works, Ill bet you think things are just fine. Too bad about the grounded airplane owners.

Ken Zino
Via e-mail

Garmin Bias?
I love your publication. As a builder making decisions weekly, I would not be without it. I read every word and although I may question the opinions raised, they are always informative and we’ll meant. Since Im having a new all-electric (vacuum sucks) panel built for my GlaStar and had specd an Apollo SL70 transponder, SL60 GPScomm and Garmin 430, I spoke with my avionics guys.

There is still time to reconsider before the unit is to be delivered. Below are the comments from David Buckwalter of Avionics Systems in Leesburg, Virginia.

Its always interesting to read other folks views on current avionics equipment. I mostly agree with the reviews. But the author seemed a little biased toward Garmin. He didnt mention the SL70s serial altitude output but did mention the Garmin has it. He also thought the Garmin looked more rugged.

I disagree, the UPSAT equipment is no question equally as rugged as Garmin. Finally, as far as aesthetics, only the most scrutinizing observer would see much of a difference when Garmin and UPSAT equipment is stacked together.

Robert M. Simon
GlaStar N161GS in progress
via e-mail

We are one of the few aviation publications to make unrestricted product recommendations based on disclosed facts and observations.

Naturally, if we pick one product over another-which is essentially what subscribers pay us to do-were susceptible to being called biased. If speaking our mind and picking what we see as the best choices is bias, were guilty as charged.