Letters: June 2013

Aircraft Tugs
I’ve had an Aero Tow E-200 for over 10 years. It works great and Terry Railing’s customer service is all anyone could hope for. It’s nice when you talk directly with the owner/manufacturer. He’s sent me battery rechargers long after any warranty had expired and I still call him with questions. He’s always happy to help.


He’s told me his philosophy of using kitty litter on ice rather than chains as you described in the article. In my experience, chains are the only thing I’ve found that works—and they still don’t work that well on a ramp that is solid ice. You’ve got to be a lot more talented than I am to be able to spread 20 feet of kitty litter or sand precisely along the path you intend to pull the nose gear.

I assume that I’m not alone in turning the aircraft 90 degrees as I pull out of the hangar to avoid blowing junk into the hangar when I start the engine. That requires more precise kitty litter spreading along a defined radius. That also requires performing geometry, which I can’t do when it’s nice and warm out, let alone 10 degrees.

Jim Gorman
Via email

Thank you for the article on aircraft tugs. Of the various accessories that I’ve purchased (mostly silly, fad and unused) for my airplanes, the tugs I’ve owned have proven their worth time and time again.

From my point of view, you omitted the coolest, cleanest, sexiest, best-engineered (I’m an engineer, so I can include that) and best-built drillmotor tug of them all: the Sidewinder from Redline Aviation. I use it to move a Piper Meridian around.

It folds up in half so that it can be carried in the airplane. It has plenty of power, even with inclines, lips and snow—backward and forward. Its small size hides its ruggedness. The battery life is unbelievable and it’s very easy to use—instant slip on and slip off. The shiny red paint and chrome color scheme gets lots of comments.

I’m not affiliated with Redline, but I recommend the Sidewinder to anyone who asks me about mine.
Thank you again for the article and magazine.

Michael Johnson
Via email

CO Poisoning
I just finished reading David Wagner’s letter about pulse oximeters and CO poisoning in the May issue. I had a very nasty experience with CO poisoning and can attest to how fast it can come on.

I’ve owned a Cessna T310R for 25 years and have kept it meticulously maintained. I’ve never had a hint of CO in the aircraft.

A few weeks ago, I made a 15-minute flight from Westchester County Airport in New York to Morristown, NJ. It was very turbulent. When I felt nauseated, I attributed it to the turbulence and lack of breakfast. By the time I landed, I felt a little dizzy, which I attributed to the nausea.

By the time I’d finished lunch, the symptoms had gone away, vindicating my belief that the problem was turbulence with an empty stomach.

On the return flight, the air was smooth, but the nausea and dizziness returned. When I landed, I guessed the problem was CO, but did not know why.

I went to the hospital, where it was determined that my blood CO level was severely high from the 15-minute flight. I’m glad it hadn’t happened on a flight I make routinely, which takes me 200 miles offshore.

It turned out the gas-fired heater fuel injector was clogged, so gas was dribbling rather than spraying into the combustion chamber. The partially burned fuel was sending CO and CO2 into the cabin.

Heater performance had never been a part of the checklist on the annual—it is now.

John Rolls
Via email

Engine Heaters and GPS
After reading your article on engine heaters in the April issue, I wanted to pass along what I did for heating my airplane’s engine here in Wisconsin. I’m cheap. I got a 750-watt space heater, some metal duct work, a few screws and a timer and built a system that blows warm air into the aft, lower cowl of my airplane.

The timer comes on each day at 6 a.m. and runs the heater until 9 a.m., warming the engine to 70 degrees. An old rug over the cowl holds the heat in well. Even on a warm morning, the engine temperature never gets above 90 degrees.

Thank you for all of your helpful articles, especially the recent ones about software and GPS for iPad. You’ve helped me make good decisions and save time and money.

Mike Hartz
Via email

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