Just Plane Talk

Aviation in General and General Aviation in Particular!

Airplanes, Food & Fun

Probably one of the only things that pilots like as much as flying is a chance to get together for some flying AND food.   Such an event called simply “The Hangar Party” takes place about once every three months at Charles Baker Airport (2M8) located between Memphis and Millington, TN.  As Charlie Pitman, one of the regulars at the pilot gatherings puts it: The “lying and flying” part starts around 3:30 while the “eating” part starts around 5 to 5:30.  Afterwards, there’s more “lying and flying” although IMHO I think it’s a risk to allow some people to get in a place after the “eating” part since getting air-sick is indeed a real possibility for some.  I’m not sure what the protocol is but I would hope that whoever “up-chucks” in a plane would at least offer to clean it up.

The quarterly event at 2M8 takes place in a huge private hangar and the potluck/covered dish extravaganza is indeed a sight to behold with all kinds of goodies in place.

There’s so much food that a separate dessert table is set up to the side.

Once the plates are loaded, then people park themselves at the many tables to renew old friendships, make new acquaintances and get caught up on the latest of what’s going on.

As a matter of fact, you name it and someone somewhere at these gatherings is probably talking about it.

I also learned from personal experience that you shouldn’t vacate your chair too long because someone is liable to start trying to sweet talk your honey.

Charlie Pitman & (my wife) Bethany

Charlie Pitman & (my wife) Bethany

As the sun drops closer to the horizon but before the mosquitoes come out from their hiding places (in the summertime that is) some folks start drifting away from the tables and back to watch the planes as  pilots put on an impromptu air show (mainly high speed passes over the runway and some limited formation flying).

pix from old kodak august 2009 090

Others offer to take passengers up for a joy ride (at no charge to the passengers) and for some of these passengers it is the first time they’ve been up in a small plane.

Others just enjoy going up and “committing aviation” as I like to call it.

All in all, In My Humble Opinion, this type of periodic gathering is extremely important to the future of General Aviation. 

It exposes newcomers to the world of flying and it helps build camaraderie among the pilots.   General Aviation has dealt with some struggles over the past 25 years from the brief (fortunately) time that companies (Cessna & Piper) stopped building  G-A planes in the U-S to the soaring cost of aviation fuel and the whole thing with tightened security at G-A airports following 9-11 .

Those in G-A should do everything in their power to promote general aviation with regular events like the ones that take place at 2M8 and those who manage the airports should always hope that events such as these draw big crowds.

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Nothing Like Some Shimmy When You Land

I fly a 1981 Piper Warrior, sometimes referred to as a PA-28-161 by some.  My wife refers to it as “Penny Piper”.  (She also had a foreign made car  she referred to as “Horatio Honda”.)  But getting back to the Warrior,  it’s a good looking plane if I do say so myself.  Others tend to agree.  All in all, it’s a solid flying machine and except for engine issues last winter, it’s been an easy plane to live with.  Recently though, it developed a shimmy problem with the nose wheel on roll out after landing or during a high speed turn-off.  A couple of us decided that it was just an issue with the steering damper and we were going to have it addressed.  (The heavy duty springs attached to the nose wheel steering apparatus were replaced a couple of years ago).  However, one of the partners discovered during a long cross country trip that it was NOT the steering damper at all.  The oscillation became so violent after landing that my partner had it immediately checked by a mechanic on the field who determined that the bracket that actually holds the steering damper in place was BROKEN.  The problem was remedied and the plane continued the journey.   I’m not sure if anyone else has encountered a situation where that bracket has broken.  Also, I’m not sure if there aren’t other contributing factors that could have led to the failure of that bracket (besides a loose nut behind the controls in the left seat).  Any thoughts out there?

Expect Some Sort of Backlash from the Air Crash in New York City

As a former member of the Fourth Estate (news reporter/journalist types) I have a pretty good idea of what passes for news (although in some cases the definition of news appears to be somewhat fluid).   That’s why I always cringe whenever there is a plane crash of any type.  And while there is no such thing as a “good” plane crash (I consider the Miracle on the Hudson involving U-S Airway 1549 to be an off-airport landing)  the collision of the Piper and the helicopter over the Hudson amounts to a very bad crash.  It’s not just that everyone on board died.  That is indeed a tragedy.  It’s that the spotlight has once again been turned on General Aviation and I can just about guarantee that somehow, someone will make some political hay from this.  It always seems to happen that way.  Clearly some changes need to be made since one life lost is one too many.   If there was pilot error then some changes will need to be made.  I just hope the powers that be don’t go overboard as they sometimes do when it comes to G-A. I’ve never flown in the New York City corridor so I don’t know the situation.   Also, too many times some well-meaning (and sometimes not so-well meaning) reporter/producer will create a story or tell half of the story because someone has an agenda or just doesn’t know enough about the subject. (I know that AOPA, The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association tries to make sure that various news organizations understand what is going on.) Plus, with so many concerns about aviation related security since 9/11, there always seems to be someone, either a politician or reporter looking for exposure, ready to take on G-A for whatever reason.   Except for a few reporters at the national level (Miles O’Brien, formerly of CNN being one of them)  it’s safe to say that the news folks in the TV business don’t seem to understand General Aviation.  That’s pretty scary as they wield a lot of power in their often time breathless reporting.  Maybe I’m wrong about this and I hope to be proved wrong.  I doubt that I will be.

P.S.  An interesting article about the crash (among many) at “Flying” magazine’s website.  Click on this link to read it.

Just Plane Talk

Hello, my name is Joe Larkins.  Yes, I know, this is just what we need.  Another yahoo posting on things about aviation in general and general aviation in particular.   Well, I can’t dispel the notion that I’m a ‘yahoo’ but I do hope those of you who check in will find something of interest here.  I have found that as an instrument rated private pilot (right at 800 hours and counting) that having my flying ticket is indeed a ‘license to learn’.  It seems just about every time I go out and ‘commit aviation’ as I call it, I learn something about something.   Sometimes it’s about actually flying the plane; sometimes it’s about an easier way to remove bugs  from the leading edges (always do it when they are fresh) and sometimes it’s just about the aviation community in general.  As more than one person has told me “When you stop learning, you’re dead”.

So, as you stop by, I hope you feel free to share your thoughts about whatever the topic de jour is.  The only thing that I ask is this:  This is my house and when you come in, I ask that you be civil and conduct yourself and your comments accordingly.  Obscene and defamatory comments will be deleted at my sole discretion.  While I enjoy and encourage lively debates, I ask that everyone be civil in their writings/comments.  If you have questions, I will try to find an answer.  If I don’t know the answer, I’m sure we can track it down.  With that, let the dialogue begin.