Author Archives: Mike

Can you fly the airplane if something is not working?

Most applicants are familiar with the items listed in §91.205 (remember “TOMATOFLAMES” anybody?).  As pilots we are taught early on that the equipment listed in §91.205 must be operational.  But what happens if something not listed in §91.205 is inoperative?  A dated but still valid guiding document for this dilemma is AC 91.67.  This AC discusses the use of a Minimum Equipment List (MEL).  A MEL solves this problem by providing guidance as to what must be done (or what you can do) if some component not listed in §91.205 is inoperative.  But what to do if your airplane doesn’t have a MEL?  Check out chapter 2 of AC 91.67.  Chapter 2 provides a step by step guideline for what the pilot must do to ensure the airplane is both safe and legal to fly.  The first step is to check the equipment list or “kinds of equipment” list.  Here are some examples of a “kinds of equipment” list:

C172M kinds of operations

The example above is from a C172M POH and is not very specific. Note that there is no addtional “equipment list” for this model.

C172N kinds of operations

This is from a C172N POH and not much better, also no equipment list.  And below we have a newer model, a C172S.  The C172 lists “kinds of operation” and then goes further with a equipment list.  This helps because the equipment list will state whether or not you can fly with a component inoperative.  Remember, an equipment list IS NOT an MEL.  They sound similar but in this usage they are two completely different animals.

C172S kinds of operations

Next, go to step 2 and check the type certificate requirements.  Search for “type certificate data sheet” (TCDS) for your aircraft.  Again you may find that not much information is provided for the older airplanes such as the C172M and C172N.  The newer aircraft may have more information.   The next step is to search for Airworthiness Directives (AD) that might have required the installation of the component that is inoperative.  Finally, if you haven’t found the item in one of the previous steps then go back to §91.205 to see what applies for your flight.    Night time flight?  Then you need the equipment listed in §91.205 (b) and (c).  The AC also says to check other pertinent regulations such as §91.207, §91.215. If after going through the regulations you find that your inopertive component is not listed then you may be able to deactivate/remove it, placard it, and continue to fly.  I say “may” because you might need an A&P to do the work.  As the pilot in command (and a pilot applying for a rating) you should be familiar with the procedures for determining the airworthiness of your airplane both with, and without, a minimum equipment list.



Risk Management and the Aircrew Certification Standards

The change from Practical Test Standards (PTS) to the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) is happening this June.  The first ratings to change over to the new ACS are the Private – Airplane and Instrument – Airplane.  Guidance is posted on the web site and I’m not going to go into the codes or format but I do want to bring up a few points.   The ACS does not change the standards for the evaluation but each Area of Operation task now has three specific sections; Knowledge, Risk Management, and Skills.  The PTS has always had a “skills” section but the knowledge and Risk Management area were perhaps somewhat vague to many applicants and CFIs.  Knowledge pertains to the knowledge requirements of §61 for your respective rating (e.g. §61.105 for the Private Pilot) and these areas are examined both on the knowledge test (“written test”) and on the oral portion of the practical test (your “check ride”).  The future “written” tests will link a code specifically to a subtask on the knowledge section making it much clearer as to which areas were missed on the written (and making it easier for the examiner to recheck these areas!).

The ACS has brought new and needed attention to Risk Management.  The risk management section of the ACS contains much information that was in the “special emphasis” section of the PTS.  The special emphasis area on page 7 of the Private Pilot PTS (FAA-S-8081-14B) was sometimes overlooked by both CFIs and students.  Also overlooked was the Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM) section of the old PTS especially as it pertains to Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM).  ADM includes tools such as the PAVE model, the 3Ps – Perceive, Process, Perform, and DECIDE.  I’M SAFE is another risk management tool. Now risk management is right out front and center on each task in the ACS. The FAA has many great handbooks that are available free on the web site.  These handbooks serve as the references for just about everything contained in the ACS (or old PTS for that matter).  One handbook that may have been overlooked in your training is the Risk Management Handbook (FAA-H-8083-2 with change 1).  This handbook is a primary resource for the new ACS risk management section.

Problems on the Private Practical

My schedule has been affecting my posts but I’m going to attempt some short blogs about problems I see in Practical tests.  This one is about airspace for the private airplane practical test (and commercial for that matter).  Area of Operations 1, Task E requires the applicant to know the VFR weather minimums for “all classes of airspace”.  This leads to item 2 of this task which requires knowledge of the rules for each class of airspace.  One area that is a problem is where Class E starts and/or where Class G airspace ends as you climb or descend.  Look at this sectional from my flying area.  Note the point I’ve labeled “A”.  A typical scenario question might

Class G airspace

be “you’ve departed on your flight today and you are level at 1000′ AGL in this area.  What are the visibility and cloud separation requirements?”  This requires that you know this is Class G airspace up to 1,200′ AGL.  The answer I get too often is that Class G in this area extends to 10,000′ MSL!  I don’t understand the 10K because all airspace above 14,500 MSL is Class E but in this case it starts at 1,200′ AGL.  I think the 10,000 MSL answer stems from the change is visibility above 10,000′ MSL (§91.155).   Note the airspace below is Class G above 1,200′ AGL and

class G above 1200

up to by not including 14,500′ MSL.  There isn’t much of this Class G above 1,200′ AGL east of the Mississippi (not sure if there is ANY east of the Mississippi these days).  Ok, back to the first photo – note area B.  This is where Class E extends down to 700′ AGL or Class G extends up to 700′ AGL and is generally around an airport or areas with lots of traffic/airports.  For some reason many seem to get this one right but don’t know where Class E starts outside the 700′ magenta shaded area.   For your practical test you should know all the visibilities and cloud clearances in Class G and Class E.  Don’t forget the other airspace either!  More on that in another blog.  In the meantime I found a good source online at the Bold Method web site.


Cessna 195

During a recent work trip out west I decided to accompany my friend Jeff to Chino Airport (KCNO) to pick up a part for his “new” airplane. Jeff had just purchased a 1953 Cessna 195 which is currently in Oklahoma getting the Jacobs Radial Engine overhauled. The Cessna 195 is considered a “classic” airplane and not an Antique.  Antique airplanes were manufactured   prior to August 31, 1945 while Classics where built from September 1, 1945 to December 31, 1955 (which by the way makes me a “Classic”).  Jeff and I were staying near Burbank and drove out to Chino expecting a short meeting with Jeff Pearson of Heritage Aero.  Jeff Pearson is considered a Cessna 195 expert and we found him deep into an annual on a beautiful polished aluminum C-195 with yellow accents.  The other Jeff, the one I was traveling with, needed to get a replacement airspeed indicator for his “new” C-195.  We found Mr. Pearson to be an affable guy and we were enjoying our visit when a couple showed up and suggested we all go to lunch.  Now Jeff and I had planned and expected to just get the airspeed indicator and then head over to one of the great museums on Chino.  But they all insisted that we go to lunch with them and then out of the blue Mr. Pearson said that if we stuck around he would take us up in his C-195.  Needless to say we were all in now.  During lunch we discovered that Paul and Pam Tackabury were no neophyte aviators.  Paul has a long and rich history as an Air Force aviator and his beautiful wife was there for the whole wonderful ride.  They were great hosts and against our objections paid for our lunch!  After lunch the Tackaburys invited us to their hangar which is filled with beautiful aircraft that are meticulously maintained.   The visit to the the Tackabury’s hangar alone was worth the trip.  But even better things were to come.

Paul and Pam's hangar on KCNO.  This photo doesn't begin to do it justice

Paul and Pam’s hangar on KCNO. This photo doesn’t begin to do it justice

True to his word Jeff Pearson got us moving towards his hangar.  We pulled out his Cessna 195 and fueled up.  Jeff Pearson was in the left seat and Jeff (the new C-195 guy) was in the right and I was just happy to be riding in such a great airplane.  Jeff fired up the Jacobs radial; what a great sound!

Jeff Pearson's C-193

Jeff Pearson’s C-193

Jeff took off and demo’d a couple of landings and then ask my friend Jeff if he would like the left seat!  This was totally unexpected but it didn’t take Jeff a second to say “absolutely”!  So new guy C-195 owner Jeff got to do about 4 landings and then Mr. Pearson asked me if I’d like a turn!?!  Of course I was all in!  I hadn’t flown a taildragger in 30 years and I warned Jeff but despite a few bounces it turned out well.  What a great airplane.  I knew of the C-195 and of course I’ve seen a few over the years but I had never thought of actually owning but but now……  Anyway hat’s off to Jeff P. and the Tackabury’s.  What great folks and if they are any indication of the kind of airplane people at Chino then what a great airport!

My turn up front!

My turn up front!


Picking up the DA40

I had the opportunity to pick up a Diamond Star DA40 this week.  I had not flown a DA40 before so this is my first impression of the airplane.   I’m a member of the Tidewater Flying Club and DA40 1our club has just purchased a 2003 DA40, N653JS.  The airplane was based at KSZF in Rhode Island and our club had arranged for some post purchase maintenance to be completed at KPGV in North Carolina.   So the plan was for me to get to KSZF, receive training from an instructor to satisfy the insurance company (and to make me comfortable), and then fly N653JS to KPGV and get picked up for the ride back to our home base at KPHF.  Lots of moving parts to this endeavor.  I arrived in Providence, RI the night prior to the pick up and stayed at a hotel near the airport.  The following morning my instructor for Diamond training, Jacob Hoffman, picked me up at 8:00 for the drive to KSZF.  Jacob is an instructor for AirVentures, a flight school at KSZF.  We arrived at the airport and started with a review of the manuals and then a preflight/discussion of the aircraft systems.  Jacob was very knowledgeable and thorough.  I was impressed with the size of the DA40.  I’m 6’2″ and I thought that it wouldIMG_0782 be a tight fit but I had plenty of headroom and legroom.  One thing I continued to have problems with is that you enter the cockpit from the front of the wing.  I’m used to getting into low-wing airplanes from behind the wing and so I kept walking around behind the wing only return to the front.  I found the seats comfortable.  The pilot and copilot seats are fixed and you adjust the rudder pedals fore and aft by pulling a cable.  I was surprised at the legroom available for the backseat passengers.  This DA40 also has a “ski” compartment in addition to the cargo area behind the rear passenger seats.  This is a long “tube” that would allow you to put skis (or some such thing) in the aircraft.  It is placarded with a 10 lbs max gross weight so you are not going to put much in the “ski” tube.  After our preflight in hangar we got the DA40 outside and refueled.  The start up is pretty straight forward and soon we were up and running.  It was windy and there was a good crosswind on runway 23; a great way to learn a new airplane!  Back to the rudder pedals, the pedals are close together and on each side there is a fixed metal bar (or bracket) that is DSC00732used to push the pedals to the out (away from the pilot) position.   I was wearing a pair of light hiking boots (anticipating the cold weather) and my big feet came in contact with the fixed metal bar if I didn’t make sure to kept them close together.  I believe the problem was my big feet combined with my boots and in the future I plan to wear a light weight pair of shoes.  So, if you have big feet, be warned!  After the upper air work we went to KPDV for an ILS and a few patterns.  Then back to KSZF with a forced landing scenario.  We ended the flight training with cross wind landings.  I felt comfortable with the DA40 and Jacob was happy with me so with training completed I refueled and started on my way to North Carolina.  I filed IFR at 6000′ via JFK and then down the coast to Delaware Airpark (33N) for relatively cheap fuel.  ATC decided to completely change my clearance but with some knob turning I was on my way.  (A hearty thank you to ForeFlight!)  ATC said I had to go to 8000′ for some unknown reason and I continued at that altitude towards NYC for about 45 minutes in a >35 knot headwind.  At that altitude the rpm was 2400 and the manifold press 21.3 with a OAT of +1 degrees C.  Using a indicated airspeed of 130 knots I came up with a TAS of around 148 knots.  ATC lowered me to DSC007306000′ and I had a great view of JFK.  I took some photos of NYC but there was a little haze and so the pictures didn’t turn out so well.  ATC was not too busy and I finally turned towards the southwest and the headwind turned into a crosswind.  It had been quite bumpy but I seemed to cross a cold frontal line and the turbulence had abated.  I started to do a few more TAS calculations.  I first used a higher power setting of 23′ manifold pressure (mp) and 2400 rpm.  With a plus 3 degrees centigrade and an indicated airspeed of 130 I had a TAS 149.  I was lowered again to 4000′ and adjusted to a “normal” cruise (according to the manual I was using for the DA40) of 23′ mp and 2200 rpm.  DSC00741With outside temp of 8 degrees C I had a TAS of 141 knots.  The aircraft really seems to be comfortable at this power setting, smooth and quiet (at least with my Lightspeed headset on).  I landed at 33N and got fuel.  I calculated a burn rate of 10.5 gallons an hour.  I did several more TAS calculations on the second leg from 33N to KPGV and always had a TAS greater than 140 knots.  Again, this DA40 is very comfortable in cruise with a 23 mp and 2200 rpm.  A few of observations.  This airplane has incredible visibility but you’d better wear a hat if you’re heading into the sun.  The vents seemed to work well and afforded adequate ventilation however it wasn’t a warm day.  Jacob said the DA40 actually wasn’t bad in DSC00742the summer once you were airborne and he has flow them for a flight school in Florida.  The wings are long and low and it would be easy to taxi into something sticking up like a taxiway light or sign by a taxiway (note the photo below).  Also below is a photo of the adapter plug for a iPad charger.  This plug is limited to 2 amps and I plugged a iPad charger into it and it created havoc with static on the radios.  It also is labeled “for ground use only” and I didn’tDSC00739 notice this until after the radio static problem.  It was a long day and I was happy to finally get home at about 10:00 pm!  Overall I’m happy with the DA40 and think it will be a good addition to our club.


DSC00747 DSC00745DSC00733

Night Air Mail Light Beacons

As a little kid I heard about the light beacons used to guide the Air Mail flights across the United States in the 1920s.  But just a year or so ago I learned that the beacons also included a concrete arrow on the ground to point to the next beacon and that some of these concrete arrows still exist.  I have flown VFR across the US many times and was surprised that I had not heard of or seen any of them.  But just recently, on my cross-country from the west coast to the east, I randomly chose KGNT in New Mexico as KGNT mail beacon - 16a refueling stop.  KGNT (Grants-Milan Airport) sits at 6537′ just west of the 11,301′ Mt. Taylor.  I was thrilled to find a complete Airway Beacon Site that has been moved to this airport and restored by the Cibola County Historical Society.   The small FBO is a very friendly place and loaded with memorabilia.  The photo on the left is taken from the ramp looking at the FBO and you can see the beacon to the rear of the building.  The next photo is of the beacon and the generator shed along with the concrete arrow pointing to the next beacon station.  Also in the photo on the left there is a partially restored CAA Flight Service Station that was used during   DSC00670the era.  If you go to the Cibola web site you will find much more information on the beacons and their efforts to preserve this piece of aviation history.  This next two pictures are of a small memorial

DSC00677DSC00676of an accident that occurred in 1929.  And the last picture is a photo of the beacon I took as we departed KGNT .  You can see the arrow placed on the ground which would point to the next station.  Note that the CAA Flight Service Station depicts the runway headings of 35 and 10 which I believe is because the old airport had two runways.  There is only one runway

KGNT mail beacon - 20at KGNT now.  Also, what you are looking at is really two different facilities.  The CAA Flight Service station was actually located on this field while the beacon and generator shed were moved here by the Cibola County Historical Society.  The generator shed was site 62 which meant it was 620 nautical miles from Los Angles.  The CAA Flight Service station rooftop also notes that the heading beacon number 54 is 107 degrees.  Great job by the folks of Cibola County!

Mountain Flying

I’ve been doing some mountain flight training in an area southwest of Carson City, NV.  Mountain flying in helicopters requires good performance planning as well as an understanding of the effects of wind, weather, and the of course the lack of O²!  I currently use the ForeFlight™ app on my iPad retina mini for flight planning, en route navigation, and situational awareness.  I’m a big fan of ForeFlight™; check out this screen shot.  foreflight

When you are in flight the symbol ForeFlight™ provides for your aircraft is an airplane, helicopter, or some other symbol (the symbol is user selectable).  I usually use a helicopter but in this case my position is just a blue dot.  This is because I’m not moving.  Yep, just landed at about 11,500′.  Depending on the source the highest airport in the world is in Tibet at about 14,219′ with a runway over 14,000 feet long.   But 11,500′ is still pretty high.  I have landed at higher elevations but this 11.5K spot is about the highest we can use in this area.

DSC00661Here is a photo of one of my passengers at 11,500′.  It was about -7 degrees at the time.  I like to use a mountain flying technique of approaching the landing site on the windward side.  This puts the helicopter in smoother up flowing air.  The up flow (updraft) requires less power.  I then make passes at 40 knots to discover which direction provides a headwind.  I let the aircraft crab into the wind and continue into the landing site all the while keeping power applied.  This technique allows the pilot to approach with power in a controlled manner while providing an escape route into the wind and up flow.  Great training and great fun!


I happened upon this airplane in Yuma, AZ this week.  It is the the same make, model, and year as the first airplane I soloed many years ago.  This is a 1959 Cessna 150 that has been converted to a taildragger but in many ways it is identical to the one I soloed when I was 16, good old N5964E.  This is even the original paint scheme used for 1959 Cessna 150s, just like the one we had, and note that the tail numbers are closeIMG_0713 (this one is N5789E).  My Mom owned N5964E but unfortunately some folks managed to total it (no one was seriously hurt).  Ours was a tricycle gear as were all the C-150s unless converted like this one.  I didn’t meet the owner but this airplane looks to be in great shape.  N5964E was a great airplane and I wish we still had her around.

Brand new web site

So this is my brand new web site.  The old one was designed with the help of some person I never saw in some land far, far away.  It wasn’t bad but I couldn’t edit the site.  I’m not a tech guy – well I’m not a real good tech guy,  (I love gadgets) but I’ve gradually learned to use WordPress and so here it is.  Nothing too fancy however my intent is to get some information out about my company, On Course Aviation LLC, and WV77, our little airport in West Virginia.  My blogs may be sporatic but I hope to get some comments about WV77 from those that fly there and enjoy the airport.  If you have questions about flight training or other business opportunities please use the contracts page and either email or call.

MIRight now I’m in Dallas for the Vintage and Experimental Aircraft Examiners annual get together with the FAA.  I’m an experimental examiner for the Russian Mi-8 series of helicopters.  It’s a big ugly brute but I love to fly it.  Lot of good information put out today by the ladies from AFS 760.  They are the paperwork folks from the FAA and it all comes down to the paperwork.  I’ll be adding blog posts on all things aviation such as techniques, regulation updates, and gear I like and how I use it.  Check back in when you have the time.