Letters: 02/05

Battery Notes
The conclusions in your battery review in the December issue were right on: Alkalines in the headset and ANRs and Ni-MH in the constant-use GPS.

Ive had a problem with Duracells over the past many years, where I can count on one battery in 10 leaking. On the NiMHs, some are now purporting to deliver 2000 ma/hour or more, up from 1500, which will skew your curve even more in favor of these. But, as noted, self-discharge is phenomenal.

Ive been using the Rayovac rechargeable alkalines since they first came out. My experience says you’ll be doing we’ll if you get 20 cycles out of them, compared to your guess of 50, and those last few cycles will be short-lived. The trick is to recharge them when theyre down only 90 percent or so, essentially keeping them constantly topped off. This is a pain and quite a management chore.

Since they don’t respond we’ll after being discharged, they arent suitable for high-current, constant-duration applications. Theyre more suitable for flashlights or TV remotes that sip power slowly and intermittently. Even then, you have to set your PDA to remind you to charge them every few months. (And they don’t work we’ll in PDAs, either.)

Considering there’s only one source, if they quit making them, youre stuck with a useless recharger. Sounded like a good idea at the time, but Id stay away.

Mike Palmer
Via e-mail


High-Dollar Upgrades
Your magazine is one of the few I read as soon as it arrives and I read it from cover to cover before I put it down. I usually agree with everything you write, but I must disagree with your article on electronic upgrades. It seems to be written by someone who trades his car (or airplane) in every year and takes a beating on the depreciation.

Consider my situation. I own a 1961 Comanche 250, for which I paid $17,000 in 1978. Since then, I have put every speed mod/upgrade known to man and two years ago, I overhauled the engine. I have a LoPresti cowling, propeller and speed spats. I also installed (Im an A&P) a Knots2U Arapaho windscreen, dorsal fin and speed cowl. I recently had a Garmin GNS530, Shadin Mini-Flow and Garmin 340 audio panel installed.

The Century IIB is about seven years old. My paint is 10 years old but since I hangar the airplane, the paint still draws comments. I had a new headliner put in after I installed shoulder harnesses in both front seats. Most of the work was done over the years at annual except for the GPS, fuel flow and audio panel, which, if I understand Larry Anglisanos article, I was foolish to do.

My way of looking at it-I could be wrong-is that I now have an airplane that will cruise at 170 knots. I also have almost 1100 pounds of useful load and carry 90 gallons of gas. My airplane has the city-to-city record from Fort Worth, Texas to San Diego in 6 hours and 46 minutes.

Including the purchase price, I have spent about $75,000. What would it cost me to replace my airplane with a new one? $300,000? $400,000? Even if you include my labor, I might have $100,000 in my airplane. I think you have to look at what it would cost you to replace whatever you have in order to see if your expenditures will be justified. Upkeep on an older airframe? Check out the ADs on the new ones; they have problems too. Bernoulli doesnt make airplanes fly, money does!

Marty Case
Via e-mail

On the other hand, the Bluebook value of a 1961 Comanche 250 is $58,000, which is the proverbial other side of the coin. Our only point is this: before considering high-dollar upgrades, we think owners should put a sharp pencil on buying a newer airframe or one that already has some of the desired avionics. If the decision is still to upgrade an older airframe, go to it. We don’t think its wrong, as long as you plan to keep the airplane, which you obviously do.


Biannual Checkups
A phrase in your LSA editorial in the December issue hit a chord with me: Older pilots who are sweating out their biennial visits to an AME.

I had a friend in the older pilots category who felt that biennial was enough visits to a doc and when the biennial visit came up his PSA had gone from normal to inoperable. These older pilots had better be getting their prostate checked more often than biennially. Prostate cancer is not a joke, nor is it something you check every two years. The penalty is far worse than losing your license.

Lynn Buchanan
Via e-mail

Good point. And heres another one: your regular Doc and your AME shouldnt be the same guy-or woman, as the case may be. You can then do checkups without sweating it out.


Real World Routing
Your reviews have been helpful, however changes are coming so rapidly I recommend further evaluation of computer flight planners.

I am based at Saratoga, New York and make many IFR flights through the New York, Philadelphia and Washington areas and into the Boston Class B airspace.

The automated flight planners I have looked at are very good at providing efficient-direct-routes through these areas. While these routes are nice to look at, there is little chance of ATC approval.

Thus the question: Are there any planners that factor into the routes and altitudes that ATC will actually authorize? Storing routes in the DUAT system is the best alternative I have found so far but that does not allow me to take advantage of the more sophisticated elements of some of the flight planners.

Jim Flynn
via e-mail

As far as we know, none of the commercial planning programs have a detailed, up-to-date database that includes the FAAs preferential routing choices. The best source for this information is found in the FAAs Airport/Facility Directory, but even it offers only a partial listing.


A clarification for our January article on WAAS approaches: although there are only a handful of LPV WAAS approaches-47 as of December, 2004-728 LNAV/VNAV procedures have been published to airports all over the U.S.In our Used Aircraft Guide, the total number of Piper Navajos built was 3880, not just over 1500, as we reported . Of these, 1775 were 310/325s, 1846 were Chieftain/T1020s and 259 were 31-P pressurized Navajos.