Letters: 08/03

WSI Price?
In a recent article about data link weather systens, you got it wrong. The price for the WSI InFlight uncertified weather data link system is $3495, not $3995. And it is less pixelated than most of the competition due to its 1-mile resolution. Even the original NEXRAD data is pixelated at the source, since it is a digital system. I think its resolution is about the same as WSIs.

-Norm Crabill
Newport News, Virginia

Actuually, we were referring to the certified system. WSI says the price will be $4995, plus $49.95 a month for datalink service.


More Weatherlink
Your recent report on aircraft datalink prompted me to write. I thought your readers would be interested in my experience with the Echo Flight System in the hands of an average general aviation pilot for more than two years.

Initially there were installation problems ,due mostly with the first avionicss shops unfamiliarity with the system, it being so new at the time.Also, mine is a very electrically noisy airplane.

Its a 1978 Cessna 310 and the panel has had a lot of changes over the years. And I was never able to leave the airplane at any one place for a long enough time.

Finally, the good people at Ronson Avionics in Trenton, New Jersey, with the tremendous support of the technical people at Echo Flight, were able to have the unit working reliably. In a word, it has been great.

Because of the installation problems, I was having, Echo Flight even picked up most of the additional costs. I think that alone says a lot about the company. Technical support is outstanding.

Now about its reliability and use. Being able to call up radar in the cockpit as soon as you fire up and not having to climb to 5000 feet is a definite plus. Response times have varied between 5 and rarely 15 minutes and I understand that automatic display will be available.

This makes available the ability to deviate in flight as necessary and can also result in the saving of time and fuel as it did in my most recent flight. At the time of my purchase, only two display sizes were available and I chose the larger display, about 6X8 inches.

This proved to be one of the few wise decisions I have made because the larger display is invaluable. I know you can get cheaper units that display on Palm-type computers, but when the ride is not smooth, the big display beats anything I think I could visualize on my Garmin GNS430 or a 530, if I could afford one.

Even the Avidyne screen would pale besides the big Echo. They have a very nice yoke mount now and I guess the best recommendation that I can give is that my wife loves it and that is more than worth the price!

I understand that there are even more embellishments from my recent visit to their booth at Sun n Fun. These are the people who are providing the uplinks to Garmins system, so I think they will be around for a long time.

If you want weather in the cockpit, I would recommend a serious look at Echo Flight. I think they offer the most bang for the buck and this letter is unsolicited. I already bought the system and they arent going to give me another one when they see this letter, nor do I want one. Im perfectly happy with what I have.

-Carl Simons
Medford, New Jersey


More Sunglasses
Regarding your second installment on sunglasses, I feel you have missed one of the best aviation sunglasses on the market. I have had several sunglasses over the years and will never wear anything other than Shields while flying! They dont create any head or temple fatigue at all because of the cord that secures them. This also limits cockpit noise because of a snugger headset fit.

Also, they wrap around your head, offering great protection and unmatched visibility. I can not say enough about them!

Find shields at www.shieldseyewear.com/aviation_sunglasses.html

-Mike Peters
via e-mail

We tried contacting this company for a sample but thus far, theyve been utterly unresponsive. Well let you know what develops.


Aircraft Prices
Great article on softening of used aircraft prices in your May 2003 issue.In trying to explain declines in value, the Malibu/Mirage in particular,stands out as a victim ofinsurance industrylargess, in my view.

Unqualified pilots-typically a CEO with a company check burning a hole in his pants-step up to the plate at exorbitant insurance rates and promptly crash. A predictable drop in popularity ensues and with it a bad rep for the airplane, engine, systems and so forth.

Richard Collins summed it up recently in Flying magazine. The failure of insurers to demand a reasonable level of pilot experience seems to have done the poor bird-and its resale value-in. These things are falling out of the sky fast. And cheap.

Thirteen of 26 six new members to MMOPA, the official owners organization, listed in the last two issues of its newsletterhad fewer than 1000 hours. One appears to not even be instrument rated.

-C.R. Burnett
Via e-mail

While we agree that lack of pilot proficiency may be a factor in Malibu/Mirage accidents, we hardly think its the dominant factor. The airplane has suffered a documented high number of inflight engine failures that were independent of pilot action or judgment. (Some of these have not been reported as accidents.)

Second, the airplane has a high maintenance incidence and owners report that reaching TBO is difficult if not impossible.


When I read the price list on the working airplanes, I didnt seethe good old-and I mean old-Cherokee 6. I thought they were pretty popular as load haulers.

Mine is a 1969 that I bought in the early 1970s, so I am not worried about the price getting too low. It would have been interesting to see what happened to the Cherokee 6s value.

-Lynn Buchanan
via e-mail

Average retail for a 1969 Piper Cherokee Six was $76,000 as of summer 2003. In 2001, it was worth the same. Consider yourself lucky. (And smart.)