Letters: 08/06

Gear-Up Costs
I read your article “What a Gear-up Costs” with some interest, since I happen to fly an older Baron very similar to the one featured in some of the pictures with the article. I think theres another possible cost of a gear-up that might need to be considered: the cost of losing the airplane if the insurance company opts to total it after a gear-up.

I have read articles in the past about how insurance companies make this decision and as our airplanes get older, I expect that it will become more of an issue. As an example, the caption for the lead photo in the article says that repair costs for a twin could reach $100,000. Thats about what my airplane is currently insured for! Thus, it seems likely that if I ever make a gear-up in my Baron, itll be the last time I get to fly it. The next trip will be to the salvage yard. Thanks for the great magazine.

Richard Lindsey
Memphis, Tennessee


FlightLogic Comments
Got the current issue with the report on the Chelton FlightLogic and it is top notch, as usual. The article on Chelton was interesting in that I have a three-screen Chelton in my Lancair ES-P. I noted that several of the limitations that you mentioned are not associated with the Chelton Sport version.

I have full engine info displayed on screen three and I have the terrain map with WSI weather displayed on screen two, except on takeoff, when engine data is on screen two.

Robert M. Simon
Via e-mail


Avgas Grumbles
If That Avgas Wimp Jim Grant is embarrassed to still be burning leaded avgas, why doesnt he just get rid of his aircraft and replace it with a turbine powered unit? If he is really that embarrassed about it, he can also go through the simple process of an auto gas STC. Then he will be leading the pack as an example setter.

Randy Perrucci
Via e-mail

The Aviation Consumer
has heard from this reader some time ago that the toxicity of leaded gas is sufficiently overblown as to have resulted in a waste of gas and money, lots of it. There is a large dose of zealotry in the anti-lead environmentalists. A trial of tetraethyl magnesium, for example, was rejected out of hand, a priori.

The toxicity of environmental lead is contrived and speculative. Actual clinical toxicity is confined to paint-eating children and industrial exposure. The relation of lead blood levels to clinical toxicity is irregular and tenuous. The wide parameters defined by the EPA and/or the CDC as “toxic” are largely arbitrary to protect the environment from fungi to the unborn to our centenarians. Good common sense, even in the FAA, delays action, hopefully, on ill-advised and expensive initiatives. Shades of the Snail Darter and MBE.

William S. Lyons
Via e-mail


Landing Lamp Fine Points
Good article on landing light tests in the July issue, but some inconsistencies should be cleared up. PAR 36 means that the lamp has, as correctly described, a parabolic aluminized reflector, but the “36” is the diameter of the lamp in eighths of an inch, or 4-1/2 inches.

The design voltage for the 4509 lamp is 13.0 volts. Operating it at 13.6 volts increases the lamp wattage by 8 percent, the light output by 17 percent, and reduces the rated average 25-hour lamp life by almost 50 percent. The non-quartz lamps tested which demonstrated longer life almost certainly have reduced light output (lumens per watt). Like many other things, there is no magic in lamp performance.

Irv Young
Toronto, Ontario


Survival Kits
I enjoyed Ben Barnards article on survival kits in your March 2006 issue. I have comments as follows: The baggage compartment, especially for overwater flying, is a poor place to carry a survival kit.

If you have to ditch, the kit, along with the raft, should be where it can be grabbed quickly when exiting the airplane, preferably before the airplane sinks. Kits used for overwater flying should be buoyant and provide for easy attachment by strong nylon or similar cord to the survivor(s) or raft. Individual components should be either integrally buoyant or have buoyant packaging.

I agree with the articles emphasis on signaling equipment. Chemical-based and electrical/electronic devices are certainly worthwhile, but their weakness is their susceptibility to battery or chemical exhaustion. A good signal mirror and a daylight high-visibility streamer are highly recommended as back-ups not dependent on batteries or chemicals.

You mentioned Doug Ritter, but failed to specify his Web site, www.equipped.org. This gives comparative evaluations similar to Consumer Reports, but specializes in survival equipment. It provides a useful way to separate the wheat from the chaff for most survival kit items.

To take one example, there are many different signal mirrors available. A few of these are quite good, many are mediocre and a few are nearly useless.

If your kit does not already have one of the good ones, you would be well advised to get one. In the interest of full disclosure, as the article puts it, I make a line of signal mirrors. Ritter has several of them.

Malcolm Murray
Baytown, Texas


Scooter Scene
Theres another scooter out there that I use and its dirt cheap. The Razor electric 200-watt does a great job of getting me around Oshkosh on Saturday and Sunday before the show starts.

It has about a six to eight-mile practical range (they say eight miles or about 45 minutes of run time), eight-inch pneumatic tires, a six- to eight-hour or so recharge. It weighs about 40 pounds, has a top speed of about 10 MPH (they say about 12) and can climb a five percent grade with relative ease.

I got one when they had a sale at Sports Authority for about $90, but you can buy them at Pep Boys all day long for about $120. They make a 100-watt model for a little less and a 300-watt for a little more. The 300-watt would do an even better job, but it weighs a little more and has 10-inch tires. Check them out.

Larry Weitzman
Rescue, California


Credit Where Due
We all have heard horror stories about aircraft owners being taken advantage of when they have problems away from their home base. I recently had the opposite experience-for the second time in one year-and would like to give credit to those who came to my rescue.

After clearing customs on the morning of February 23 at Opalocka Airport in Miami, the left engine on my 58 Baron would not turn over. I taxied over to Miami Executive Aviation (on one engine) and they called in their local maintenance guy, Eleazar Gonzalez, of ETCA.

We determined that the problem was in the starter and Eleazar estimated he could have it replaced in about one-and-a-half hours. I didnt really expect him to complete the repair so quickly, but by the time I had a burger for lunch, my airplane was ready to fly home. All this and at a reasonable price.

The service provided by these guys was outstanding; great attitude, good service and at a reasonable charge. Lets hope you dont have a breakdown away from home, but if you do, it couldnt happen at a better place. If you live in the Miami area and dont know them, it will be worth your while to get acquainted. I highly recommend their service.

John Ellenberg
Simpsonville, South Carolina