Letters: June 2011

Which Oil?

Since Shells W100 Plus is probably the most logical alternative to the additives that you and Mike Busch praise from the same script in the additives review in your April issue, it would have been interesting to hear your observations, research

and/or opinions as to its relative value. Busch says nearly equal but don’t use both, without clear definition of why. I have been running W100 Plus in an 1100-hour engine with recent new cylinders. Not flying it often enough. I purchased Camguard since you both think it is great. Not cheap.

And the W100 Plus I purchased awhile back isn’t either. I don’t know if I should add the Camguard, mix it, or see if someone at the airport is interested.

Jerry Johnson,
Via e-mail

Shells W100 is a single-weight oil with an anti-wear additive package similar to the companys top-selling multi-grade 15W50. Choosing it depends on whether you like and believe in single-grade oils or multi-grade oils. We prefer the multi-grades, frankly. We think they do as good a job as the single-grades and give some advantage in not having to be changed seasonally.

Our first choice is Phillips XC, which is an inexpensive multi-grade. When dosed with Camguard, it costs a little more than Aeroshell 15W50 and Exxon Elite. See the detailed reasoning on the opposite page for more.

Seeing Clearly

Bob Glass article on progressive lenses in the April 2011 issue was informative and interesting, but there are several important points worth mentioning. I am neither an ophthalmologist nor an optometrist, but as a pilot for 42 years, an aviation medical examiner for 30 years, a former Air Force flight surgeon, and the owner of a pair of 64-year-old eyes, Ive given the matter some study.

Large numbers of older pilots love and rely on their progressive lenses, but there are also many for whom traditional, lined bi- or tri-focals are easier, more comfortable and clearer. It is also important to make clear that an older pilot whose uncorrected distant vision remains good, may we’ll get by with a pair of $5 non-prescription reading glasses from the drugstore or www.4readers.com.

The biggest advantage of progressive lenses over traditional bi- or tri-focals is cosmetic; they don’t have the obvious demarcation lines that make you look old. True, they do provide a smooth and infinitely variable transition between distant and near vision. The downside is a much smaller sharp focus “sweet spot” at any distance than lined bi- or tri-focals, requiring more frequent and more precise head movements to focus. Referring to Dr. Glass sidebar on page 18, the clear-focus near- and intermediate-vision segments of lined tri-focals are wider than the widest part of the blue, near-vision segment of progressives, and there is no “at-least-some-distortion” red/orange segment-that area simply provides clear distant vision. Even experienced progressive wearers continuously bob their heads as they look around the cockpit; bi- or tri-focal wearers just look at what they want to see.

Finally, Dr. Glass briefly mentions interference between polarized lenses and some digital displays, but this needs to be emphasized further. Polarized lenses are wonderful for reducing glare and for driving, but many LCD displays will appear completely blank through polarized sunglasses unless you turn your head 90 degrees. As he said, be sure to try them in the actual cockpits you intend to fly before buying them.

Stephen D. Leonard, M.D.,
Atlanta, Georgia

Sportys Kudos

A little over a year ago, I wrote a letter to you about my experience with a Telex ANR-1D and what I felt was poor manufacturer support. I had an affection for the clunky, comfortable, quiet headset, but when the ANR electronics went belly up for the second time, I was stuck with a fancy-looking paperweight. Subsequent articles and letters to the editor expanded on the phenomenon of GPS, headset and other electronic obsolescence culminating in one from an economist that concluded, “Get over it, electronics are consumables, the stuff wears out faster now.”

Ive certainly gone through my share of portable GPSs and cellphones, and I have lots of dead or damaged electronic things lying around my house that Im just too reluctant to part with.

One of these was a Sony Air-8 scanner that I got from Sportys about 12 years ago. Although it looks hopelessly anachronistic­-big, clunky, BNC antenna-it still works and sounds great. Its the kind of radio you listen to in your car at the end of a runway or Car Talk on Saturday mornings on the deck, usually with a cup of coffee. Somehow, an iPhone just doesnt seem equivalent.

At some time in the past, the “execute” button fell off and probably got vacuumed up. Since it is no longer manufactured, I doubted Sony would support it. I had almost resigned myself to buying one on eBay to cannibalize. On a hunch, I Googled “Sony Air-8 repairs” and saw a sentence that said, “They might still have parts to that at Sportys, check with them.”

An e-mail to Sportys customer support confirmed, yes, they did have the button, that would be $5 plus shipping. The button is back in place, the thing works, Im happy.

Now, this is not a fancy GPS or ANR headset. And it may break again and will finally have to be laid to rest. Pilots are funny creatures, though, especially as we get older. There are some things that defy logic and Econ 101. When we can extend the life of an out-of-date but lovable old piece of equipment, it seems to cause some kind of chemical reaction in our brains. Call it loyalty. And I can imagine a grey-haired old man back in the parts department at Sportys who understands this more so than the Telex marketing department.

Peter Ver Lee,