Apr 24th

Ditching in Water vs. Trees

By Dave Schultz
 Ditching in Water vs. Trees
Featuring Wally Moran - view profile
Subscriber Question:
"I live on an island in NW Washington, as a result I obviously do a lot of flying over water. I have a Socata/Tobago TB 10 with fixed gear and gull wing doors. The question is - given a choice with an engine failure, would you recommend an emergency landing in shallow water near the shoreline or go for a tall stand of pine trees? There is no guidance in the POH." - Anonymous
"Of course our first answer to this question is neither one. I would work hard to keep myself from having to make this choice.
As a glider pilot, we have a rule that we do not fly over unlandable terrain unless we are high enough to glide to landable areas. I try to follow that same rule as much as possible when flying a power plane. But, that does not answer this question.
The first place to always go for questions like this is the pilots operating handbook, since you say there is no guidance there, I suggest you write the manufacturer to see if they have published any data on the subject. I did a quick review of the NTSB and AOPA accident data bases and found nothing related to Socata TB10 ditching.
History shows that landing a fixed gear aircraft on the water usually results in the airplane flipping over with some serious G forces in the stop. Now you are upside down, disorientated, perhaps injured and face a possible drowning. Not a pretty picture. I recently read of a Piper Warrior landing in a river and it turned over on the landing and two of the passengers drowned.
In my opinion, a tree landing is a better choice. While there are of course many hazards about a tree landing, pine trees are a soft wood that give way as they dissipate the energy which help in reducing the deceleration forces. Further if you or any of your passengers are injured, they can stay in the plane until rescued without fear of drowning. 
I sincerely hope neither you or I have to make this choice in our flying career."
Apr 2nd

Nontowered airports are anything but “out of control.”

By Dave Schultz

Some people use the term “uncontrolled airport” to mean
the same thing as 
“nontowered airport,” but nontowered airports are anything but “out of control.” 

Nontowered airports—those not served by an operating air traffic control (ATC) tower—are much more common than towered fields. In fact, nearly 20,000 airports in the United States are nontowered, compared to approximately 500 that have towers.

Millions of safe operations in all types of aircraft are conducted at nontowered airports in a variety of weather conditions. The process works because pilots put safety first and use recommended procedures.

A word about procedure: There are several sources of information that explain official FAA-recommended procedures at nontowered airports. FAR 91.113 cites basic right-of-way rules, and FARs 91.126 and 91.127 establish traffic-flow rules at nontowered airports. The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and FAA Advisory Circular 90-66A expand on the regulations. Together, these documents define procedures for nontowered flight operations.

Regulations and procedures can’t cover every conceivable situation, though, and the FAA has wisely avoided imposing rigid operating regulations at nontowered airports. What is appropriate at one airport may not work at the next. Some airports have special operating rules due to obstacles or hazards, while other rules may promote a smooth and efficient flow of traffic or keep aircraft from overflying unsympathetic airport neighbors 


Mar 27th

What is the best way to get out of IFR conditions when trapped as a VFR pilot?

By Dave Schultz
Subscriber Question:
"What is the best way to get out of IFR conditions when trapped as a VFR pilot?" 
- Chris F.
"Avoidance and training are really the important factors here. Appropriate training will help you avoid getting trapped.
Get a weather briefing before every flight and be sure to update your weather enroute with Flight Watch or Data Link, as well as at every fuel stop online or with Flight Service. Be really careful about flying in Marginal VFR or above/between layers since either or both of these can potentially lead to inadvertent flight into IMC.
All private pilots must possess a rudimentary level of instrument skill for certification. Be sure to maintain these skills because it will allow you to maintain control of the aircraft in less than VFR conditions. Of course an IFR rating is most desirable.
Having said all of the above, if you inadvertently encounter IFR conditions, make a 180° turn at the first indication that the weather is degrading to the point where you will have difficulty in maintaining VFR. Sometimes changing altitude can help but be extremely cautious with descents. If trapped as you describe - climb, communicate and confess to ATC (using 121.5 if necessary) and comply with instructions.
If you have autopilot, use it. It can be an invaluable aid to control the aircraft. At a minimum it can assist you in keeping the wings level thereby avoiding a graveyard spiral. In an emergency, if forced to descend through clouds without an autopilot, use your GPS if it has terrain, to ensure you have a clear path below."
Mar 26th

TPS ShopTalk: Battery Charging

By Dave Schultz

Cold cranking amps (CCA) is a measurement of the number of amps a battery can deliver at 0 ° F for 30 seconds and not drop below 7.2 volts.  So a high CCA battery rating is especially important in starting battery applications, and in cold weather.

Lead-Acid batteries when installed are actually charged by the alternator.  You probably knew this.  What you may not have known is that unless you are flying on long trips or for several hours at a time, the alternator due to size constraints is not quite strong enough to fully charge your lead-acid battery during occasional operating, especially if the battery has a low charge.  Therefore motorcycle batteries tend to get deep cycled faster than automotive batteries.  Cars have much stronger alternators and when regularly driven will easily keep the lead-acid batteries charged preventing them from getting deeply discharged.

 When a lead-acid battery is fully discharged, you risk reducing the calendar life of the battery.  Fully discharging, means taking a battery from a charged state to a discharged state where the individual cell voltage drops to 1.9v.  Since lead-acid batteries for motorcycles aren’t designed for deep cycling this will negatively impact the battery and reduce the life of the battery.

Under ideal operating temperatures and ideal voltage charge, a lead-acid battery will last according to manufacturer calendar life expectations.  In reality, we neglect our batteries.  Also, the conditions in which they operate in have many different variables.  So deep cycling will impact your motorcycle lead-acid battery life.  Temperature also plays a large role in battery life.  Lead-acid batteries work optimally under an operating temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).  Higher operating temperatures will degrade battery life as can be measured by the Arrhenius Equation.  Many things can affect the operating temperature of a battery.  If you live in hot desert areas and drive a motorcycle, you may experience replacing the battery more than someone who drives the same motorcycle but lives in a more temperate climate like southern California.  This doesn’t mean you should move to a much colder climate to increase your battery life!  Extreme cold weather also affects lead-acid battery life.  Although the lead-acid chemistry type can withstand a range of temperature extremes, if a flooded lead-acid battery is allowed to discharge in extreme freezing weather, the water content is higher and more susceptible to freezing.  If this happens, the battery could actually experience cracking and leakage.  At which point you will need to replace the battery very soon.

Battery Charging

Remember you must put back the energy you use immediately.  If you don't the battery sulfates and that affects performance and longevity.  The alternator is a battery charger.  It works well if the battery is not deeply discharged.  The alternator tends to overcharge batteries that are very low and the overcharge can damage batteries.  In fact an engine starting battery on average has only about 10 deep cycles available when recharged by an alternator.  Batteries like to be charged in a certain way, especially when they have been deeply discharged.  This type of charging is called 3 step regulated charging.  Please note that only special SMART CHARGERS (Battery Tender Brand) using computer technology can perform 3 step charging techniques.  You don't find these types of chargers in parts stores and Wal-Marts.  The first step is bulk charging where up to 80% of the battery energy capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum voltage and current amp rating of the charger.  When the battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts this begins the absorption charge step.  This is where the voltage is held at a constant 14.4 volts and the current (amps) declines until the battery is 98% charged.  Next comes the Float Step.  This is a regulated voltage of not more than 13.4 volts and usually less than 1 amp of current.  This in time will bring the battery to 100% charged or close to it.  The float charge will not boil or heat batteries but will maintain the batteries at 100% readiness and prevent cycling during long term inactivity.  Some Gel Cell and AGM batteries may require special settings or chargers.


Credits:  batterystuff.com, atbatt.com
Mar 20th

TPS ShopTalk: EAA Webinar, Rotax 912 Engine Maintenance and Inspection Tips

By Dave Schultz
Rotax 912 Engine Maintenance and Inspection Tips
Join us on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT
Dear Dave,
This message is to remind you that the following Webinar will take place Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT.
Rotax 912 Engine Maintenance and Inspection Tips
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Mar 20th

TPS ShopTalk: National Airspace System

By Dave Schultz
National Airspace System resource available here:


Mar 10th

TPS Shop Talk: Seirus SoundTouch™ Hyperlite™ All Weather gloves

By Dave Schultz
Seirus SoundTouch™ Hyperlite™ All Weather gloves Make a call, send a text or choose the next set of tunes to listen to on your smartphone without freezing your fingers with the Seirus SoundTouch™ Hyperlite™ All Weather gloves. •Thumbs and index fingers have a special material on them that lets you operate any touch-screen device without taking the gloves off •Water-resistant gloves are designed to fit snug for excellent dexterity •Wicking lining is comfortable next to skin and it helps move moisture •Polyurethane palms ensure you have a good grip on your smartphone •Seirus SoundTouch™ Hyperlite™ All Weather gloves have spandex cuffs that keep cold air out http://www.rei.com/product/836503/seirus-soundtouch-hyperlite-all-weather-gloves-mens
Mar 8th

Stretching Fabric Beyond Limits

By Dave Schultz

Stretching Fabric

Beyond Limits




WHEN MOST NONPILOTS LEARN that airplanes can be skinned in cloth

instead of metal, they are surprised. The idea that fabric can carry

the loads of flight is not intuitive. Most of us at one time or

another have ripped our pants in a way that leaves lingering conviction

that we wouldn’t want to bet our life on highly stressed

cloth and stitched seams.

But anybody with knowledge of aircraft construction knows

that fabric cover has a long, durable, and proven history. Fabric

cover is so strong that it is still used on a number of high-performance

aerobatic airplanes such as the Pitts and Eagle biplanes.

And many large and fast airplanes of the World War II era used

fabric covering on critical flight control surfaces.

In the early days of aviation, most airplanes were skinned with

fabric, usually made from cotton or linen. When the covering is

coated with dope or more advanced paints, it becomes smooth

and impervious to air penetration. In more recent decades, manmade

fibers have been created and woven into much stronger and

more durable fabrics. With proper installation and care, modern

fabric covering can fly safely for decades.

So it is a surprise that fabric cover failure would bring down a

light-sport aircraft, killing the two people onboard.

The airplane was a P&M Aviation Pegasus Quik 912S that

was manufactured in the United Kingdom. The Pegasus Quik

is a weight-shift-control (WSC) aircraft, meaning the pilot

pushes and pulls on a control bar to shift

the weight of the fuselage—pod, actually—

and occupants to control the aircraft

instead of using movable control surfaces.

The 912S refers to the Rotax 912 engine,

rated at 100 hp, that powers the Quik.

The most basic WSC aircraft are little

more than a wing with the pilot suspended

below. The pilot grasps a bar and

muscles his weight fore or aft to pitch up

and down. And he shifts his body left or

right relative to the bar to bank the airplane

to turn. There is no yaw control in

the normal sense.

A WSC is what most of us would call a

hang glider. Hang gliding is popular along

seashores, where a breeze can produce lift

and there are dunes or cliffs to launch

from to begin the glide.

The Pegasus Quik shares the same

basic control concept with a hang glider,

but is a much more advanced aircraft.

The Quik has a fuselage pod and tricycle

landing gear. The two seats are side by

side. And the four-cylinder Rotax

engine is mounted behind the seats

with a pusher propeller.

The swept wing of the Quik is

mounted on a pylon—mast is another

word that comes to mind—protruding up

from the fuselage. The wing is hinged in

such a way that it is free to pitch leading

edge up and down relative to the fuselage,

and to bank left or right. Dual

control bars that are attached to the

wing protrude down to a position in

front of each seat.

The Quik is no slouch, with a maximum

takeoff weight of only 903 pounds

for its 100-hp engine to push. Many

light-sport airplanes weighing almost

50 percent more have the same 100 hp

available. And with 114 square feet of

wing area, the Quik has low wing loading,

giving it a slow stall speed and

tight maneuverability.

The mission was to fly around a

small island in Hawaii on what was

billed as an “introductory instructional”

flight. Aircraft such as the Quik

that are approved under the light-sport

aircraft (LSA) rules cannot be flown for

compensation or hire to take a person

on a sightseeing flight as you can, with

some restrictions, in a standard category


The 49-year-old pilot flying the Quik

held a sport pilot certificate and a flight

instructor rating for WSC aircraft. He

also had a repairman certificate for LSA

in the WSC category, was certificated to

pilot balloons, and held a private pilot

certificate for single-engine airplanes.

He was legally certificated to conduct an

introductory instructional flight, but

given that the operation was in Hawaii,

and the flight would be mostly over the

beach and near cliffs arising from the

ocean, one could wonder if instruction

was the primary mission for the flight.

The pilot’s logbook was not recovered

by the NTSB, but on a medical

certificate application nearly three years

before the accident, he reported having

1,800 hours’ total flying experience.

The Pegasus Quik left the factory in

Marlborough, England, about four years

before the accident, with an empty

weight of 464 pounds. With its

maximum takeoff gross weight of 903

pounds, there were 439 pounds of useful

load available. Maximum fuel capacity

was 17 gallons, so with the tank full, the

payload was down to 337 pounds for

people and any other items on board.

About a year after the Quik was manufactured,

a ballistic recovery parachute

system was installed, along with several

other pieces of additional equipment.

Maintenance records show that the BRS

and other equipment added 38.5 pounds

to the empty weight, lowering the fullfuel

payload to 298.5 pounds.

The NTSB reports that the pilot and

passenger together weighed approximately

420 pounds. If the fuel tank were

full, the Quik would have weighed about

1,024.5 pounds at takeoff, or about 121

pounds—13 percent—above the certified

maximum gross takeoff weight.

The Quik flew across the island to a

beach where there is an impressive rock

formation rising out of the water. The

weather was good VFR. Witnesses

reported seeing the Quik fly back and

forth along the beach and inland toward

the cliffs. The pilot reportedly flew

close to the cliffs, making steep turns

back toward the ocean. Because the

fuselage pod must remain suspended in

tension below the wing, all maneuvers

must be positive g. The manufacturer

restricts pitch attitude to a maximum of

45 degrees up or down and bank angle

to 60 degrees.

Several witnesses reported seeing the

pilot fly toward the cliffs, apply full

power, and nose-up steeply in an apparent

attempt to climb over the

450-foot-high rocks and enter a valley.

Witnesses said that the pilot didn’t clear

the cliff, but banked very steeply to the left

at the last moment, missing the cliff face

by about 50 to 100 feet. As the Quik nearly

completed the 180-degree turn away from

the cliff face, witnesses said the bank

angle increased to almost vertical. One

witness said he saw the airplane begin to

side-slip downward in the steep bank at a

rate he estimated to be 500 to 600 fpm.

The pilot managed to roll level, but was

only about 200 feet above the water in a

nose-down attitude.

The NTSB reports that witnesses had a

good enough view to see the pilot fully

extending his arms on the control bar,

pushing forward in an attempt to raise the

nose and stop the descent. One witness

saw the wing begin to buffet and said he

then heard a loud “pop” and the fabric on

the right side of the wing went slack.

Several witnesses then saw the Quik complete

a barrel roll to the right before it

impacted the water at an airspeed the

NTSB estimates to be 70 knots. The BRS

chute was not deployed. Both onboard

were killed by impact.

Divers raised the Quik from about 30

feet of water. The aircraft’s pod was

crushed and wrinkled in a way that is

consistent with impact forces from the

front left. The wing sustained severe

impact damage, and the fabric covering

had numerous tears and holes. NTSB

investigators could not be certain exactly

what fabric failure was caused by impact

with the water and what may have failed

in flight.

The NTSB also recovered two GoPro

compact video cameras that had been

mounted on the Quik. One camera was

aimed ahead of the airplane, and the other

pointed back toward the occupants.

Investigators were able to recover the

video images and, using the view ahead

and the background view of the rearwardfacing

camera, reconstruct the flight path.

The video record confirmed witness

reports of the Quik maneuvering along the

beach and cliffs, including the very steep

turn away from the cliff and dive during

recovery from the turn.

The fabric cover on the Quik wing is a

polyester material made by a company

that specializes in making fabrics for sailboat

sails. The loads on aircraft covering

and sails are similar, and in both applications

ultraviolet light is a major threat to

the strength of the fabrics over time.

That’s why sailors cover their sails with

UV-resistant canvas when the sails are

furled. The NTSB provides no information

on whether the Quik was stored

inside when not flying, or left out in the

tropical sun.

The Quik maintenance manual

includes the warning to “check your sail

for ultraviolet damage regularly. Flying

with a damaged sail could cause structural

failure, injury, or death.” The maintenance

manual directs that the fabric cover

should be tested annually or every 100

hours for strength degradation caused by

UV damage.

The typical fabric strength tester is

called a Bettsometer, which has a probe

that penetrates the fabric. The tester is then

pulled against a calibrated scale to determine

how much force is required to rip a

small area of the fabric or a seam. The manual

specifi ed 1,360 grams of force on the

Bettsometer is the minimum before the

fabric cover must be replaced. The logbook

of the accident airplane shows the most

recent 100-hour inspection occurred one

year before the accident. The Quik had

fl own a total of 380 hours at that time.

There was no record of the required

Bettsometer test being performed. The previous

100-hour inspection records show the

test was performed and the fabric strength

tested okay. NTSB tests of the fabric of the

recovered wing showed the Bettsometer

results averaged 950 grams for the right

wing and 800 grams on the left side.

A representative of the Quik manufacturer

told NTSB investigators that about

two weeks before the accident, the pilot

had contacted him to purchase a new

wing. The representative said the pilot

told him the aircraft had accumulated

about 500 hours of flight time.

The NTSB determined the probable

cause of the accident to be “the pilot’s continued

operation of the aircraft with

deteriorated wing fabric and his aggressive

maneuvering at low altitude, which

resulted in the right wing fabric’s failure

during fl ight.” The Board found that contributing

to the cause of the accident was

“the pilot’s loading of the aircraft in excess

of the maximum gross weight limit.”

The Board also points out that the

video of the flight shows that the “student”

never touched the flight controls,

nor were there any flight activities that

suggested flight training.

Another great article brought to you by the EAA:

Mar 6th

Wind Shear Landing

By Dave Schultz
Subscriber Question:
"Flying into a grass field over trees I hit a drown draft and my Cessna 150 descended quickly to the ground. Fortunately my wings found ground effect and I landed ok. How can you tell if a downer is present and how should you handle it?" - Brian C.
"Sounds like a scary landing! Wind shear has brought down everything from a Cessna 150 to a commercial jetliner. It’s real and it’s dangerous.
 Windshear - a rapid change in wind direction or velocity.
 The good news about wind shear is that we understand it much better today than we once did and we have greatly enhanced weather information. These are the two keys.
One, we need to understand wind shear and its effect on our aircraft. Two, we need to use all available information to AVOID wind shear. Yes, avoid wind shear.
That was the most important information I took from my wind shear training in the simulator. We did not train to fly through  wind shear; we learned to recognize it and GO AROUND! Just think about how many of our bad landings might have been avoided had we done a judicious go around. I believe that the go around is the most underutilized maneuver in aviation.
Wind shear should not sneak up on us. The presence of strong gusty winds can alert us to its presence. If we did our planning correctly, we will be aware of these well ahead of time and plan accordingly. Use all sources, human and electronic to have the very best weather information possible. Not flying into an area that forecast wind shear conditions is always a viable option!
Most airplane manuals will recommend carrying additional airspeed in conditions that are conducive to wind shear. Consult the manual for flap settings and airspeed recommendations. Make sure you account for this extra speed in your performance planning. 
All pilots should have a healthy respect for wind shear. It can bring down any airplane! Because of that we need to respect it and understand it."

Brought to you by:   http://www.pilotworkshop.com/tips/wind_shear_landing.htm

Mar 6th


By Dave Schultz
Rotax releases Alert Service Bulletin ASB-912-062 / 914-044 R1
This Mandatory Alert Service Bulletin covers the inspection of cylinder heads #2 and #3 for oil leakages into the intake port on Rotax 912 and 914 Series aircraft engines.