Tuesday, January 2, 2024

What's Up By LeRoy Cook

 Suggested Banner: We’re All General Aviation

 

Christmas week was relatively idle around the local airport, compared to the previous week. As pilots’ lives are filled with other Holiday obligations, their airplanes sit unused. Air travel would have been risky due to slow-moving weather systems, so we opted to move on wheels.

 

That said, the New Year forecast looked promising, so we hereby resolve to prioritize flying in 2024. As I often point out to neglectful airplane owners, “you’re going to spend the same money for inspection, taxes and storage, whether you fly it or not, so buy some gas and make some trips.” Aircraft do not age well just sitting; they need exercise occasionally, just like people.

 

Back in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the pilot of a Piper Arrow flying at 7,000 feet reported passing a mysterious moving object shaped like a triangle about 30 feet tall, evidently not registering on radar. Details are sketchy, but it wasn’t far from Camp David, the Presidential retreat, so perhaps it was some sort of security device. I’m sure the X-File followers will come up with a theory.

 

U.S. airplane makers, once the dominant force in private aviation globally, have taken a hit in the last couple of decades, from poor marketing, clumsy management and aggressive overseas competition. There are a few bright spots, however. Icon Aircraft has just re-certified their Light Sport category A-5 amphibian into Primary Category, a more flexible rules segment, which should help its sales. Even so, the two-seat A-5 is priced at $400,000, which limits its appeal. Meanwhile, Carbon Cub, builders of the Piper Super Cub clones, reports selling its 1,000th airplane since starting in 2004, a considerable achievement.

 

I can recall when Cessna built that many airplanes in a month, back in the 1970s. When the new plant in Independence, Kansas opened in 1997, it was hoped that it would produce 1,000 planes per year. But, sales never recouped to 1980’s level, and it took about five years to make the first 1,000 Restart Skyhawks. Fleet sales make up the bulk of deliveries these days, competing against refurbished 1970/1980 Cessnas that sell for half the price of new ones.

 

Cirrus, owned by the Communist Chinese, concentrates on supplying the luxury travel market from its Duluth, Minnesota plant; the flagship SR-22 piston 4/5 seater sells for near $1 million, and if you want to move faster Cirrus will sell you a Vision Jet as a move-up model.

 

As we move on into the 24th year of this Millennium, let us give thanks for the opportunity and freedom we have to use our personal wings. Don’t let a good flying day go to waste.

 

Our question for last week wanted to know the definition of “general aviation.” It’s a broad catch-all that means anything not flown by the airlines or military. From cropdusters to business jets, from trainer planes to parcel haulers, from air ambulances to pipeline patrol, and yes, private pilots flying to Grandma’s house, we‘re all in General Aviation. For next week, who revolutionized airplane radios 60 years ago in Olathe, KS? You can send your answers to [email protected].




 

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