Monday, July 23, 2007

Cessna's LSA Debut

Cessna Lite Nears Tunnel's End

Let's agree on one thing: The FAA screwed up capping the Light Sport Airplane (LSA) Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) at 1320 pounds. Where'd that arbitrary number come from? Committee, no doubt. That 1320 kept the venerable Cessna 150 (C150) off the list, leaving first-time fliers to scrounge for low-tech (although highly desirable) antiques such as the Luscombes, Aeronca Champs and Taylorcrafts. All are worthy sport machines, but the C150 would've been a logical candidate for inclusion. Who ever said the FAA was smart?

That's today's Quiz Question. You have 10 minutes to explain in 100 words or less: Who ever said the FAA was smart?

While you're thinking, consider the new Cessna LSA entrant, the Cessna SkySnatch (TM) 162: Price-- $109,500 (about the price of five good, used C150s with no more than 10,000 hours on the airframes). This aluminum LSA (file photo of something else, upper right**) will have the same size Continental O-200 engine as the older C150s (yes, Cessna plans an O-200D ? So what? Same thing only lite (TM) ).

In keeping with making LSAs Gameboy (TM) -friendly, the C162 will sport a Garmin G300 avionics package with high-speed Internet and latte dispenser.*
Instead of an aluminum prop, the Cessna 162 will have a two-blade composite prop. All fine. Now, here's where we really disagree with Cessna: The C162 will have a castering nose wheel, adjustable rudder pedals, painted interior plus gull-wing doors. More on those in a moment. Cessna says this $109k+ LSA will cruise up to 118 knots and have a maximum (outta gas) range of 470 NM. Useful load is currently 490-pound with a 24-gallon useful fuel load...

Our Analysis:

Since when is 24-gallons useful? Or how can 490 pounds be a useful load in today's obese population? I guess you leave those 24 "useful" gallons behind. Or hire a starving CFI; lots of those around.
Overall, the C162 Lite sounds like a C150 with fancy avionics (what was wrong with old ARC radios? Students still need to practice unexpected NORDO; ARC always provided valuable lessons in silence.)
Gull-wing doors sound pretty, but will the CFI get to slam them shut before flight? The old C150 doors were a great stress reliever: "Just follow the pre-takeoff checklist, Mrs. Azzetti (Slam!) It's the faded plastic thing under the seat (Wham!). We've covered this before." (Blam! Door finally latches, checklist complete).
Painted interior? Where's the creaking Royalite (TM)? Can't be a true Cessna without cracked plastic....
I'll bet Cessna won't even include a dash-mounted rear-view mirror that always points at the floorboards.
Is there a cigarette lighter? Or is this Cessna Lite too PC to allow CFIs to smoke unfiltered Luckys while the student struggles beneath a hood made from an old Clorox bottle?
Can you even buy unfiltered Luckys anymore?
Does this mean no ashtrays, either? Where, then, does the pilot stuff pencils and gum wrappers?
What about ventilation? The gull-wing doors may look cool, but will they seal out the sky, starving the crew for oxygen? Will the windows open so students can barf? Will there be Cessna-style wingroot vents to duct-tape shut in winter and provide a nesting place for hornets in summer?

Safety Features:
Will the C162 stall horn still sound like an indecisive fart passing through an oboe?
Will the doors pop open in flight? Probably not, thus depriving students of that valuable "Just fly the airplane" experience after one explodes on takeoff.
Castering nosewheel? Please. Shopping carts have castering nosewheels. I want something that shimmies on landing to remind the student to hold the nose off.
And I want real Cessna 150 flaps (40 degrees) that can hang a student pilot on final to a 12,000-foot runway for 20 minutes while airliners wait. I want flaps that prevent any chance of a go-around.

Well, what can you expect for $109,000 (subject to change) plus tax? And a 2009 delivery date, maybe.
Shame they didn't make it a T-tail...
Still, I'll bet Martha King (TM) will adore the new C162. So, I'm sold.
I need a smoke....


Dateline Oshkosh: Paul Berge, cranky-editor-on-the-lam, Hangar Flying Theater ©, all rights reserved, but feel free to pass this around. Just don't tell the FAA.

*Not verified
**Photo of Larkin Skylark at Watsonville, Ca., 1976 © Paul Berge, Ahquabi House Publishing, LLC, all rights reserved.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Emily Flies Again ©

Every Good Kid Deserves A Biplane

She slipped the web harness over her shoulders, while I cautiously told her how to attach them to the lap belt. The trick, of course, was to convey the instructions without sounding like an instructor dad who still viewed his teenage daughter as a toddler in dress-up princess clothes--which, of course, being a dad, I do.

This was Emily’s first ride in an open-cockpit biplane. Shortly after her birth I’d taken her flying in our Cherokee; strapped in a baby bucket we’d climb and swoop, and she’d gurgle and burp. By the time she was three, she flew our Aeronca from the front seat, although, mostly that consisted of yanking the joystick back and forth while squealing: “Eeee-yaaah…” By age nine, she no longer believed in princesses, and airplanes were something that Dad kept at the “boring” airport where old guys retold the same dull stories inside smelly hangars.

Then, on an unusually warm afternoon when the countryside had changed to gold beneath a sky so blue as to make a Crayola engineer squint, I was headed to the airport and asked—as I always do: “Emily, wanna fly the biplane?” With my hand on the door I expected her usual: “Ah, no thanks…” But, instead, she replied, “Sure.”

One syllable broke through that long pause over the past half-decade. “Sure,” and she grinned slightly, because teenagers aren’t supposed to show excessive emotion to parents. She pulled a UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug sweatshirt over her head and said, “Let’s go.” I would’ve taken her hand—the one belonging to the three-year-old who used to fly with me—but I knew better.

Despite the time gap, she hadn’t forgotten how to behave at the airfield. She stayed clear of propellers and helped remove the cockpit canopies and mousetraps from beneath the seats. Luckily, the trap lines were empty, the mice having learned it was safer to nest in the neighbor’s Cessna 172 than inside the biplane.

“Pull on the strut,” I said, and then tugging on the opposite wing, we rolled the Marquart Charger from its hangar. Sunlight—the unreal kind in late afternoon across dormant farmland—lit her face as no canned makeup ever could. “Now, hold your side while we swing the tail,” and she understood how to turn the biplane until it pointed toward the grass runway.

It was a short but glorious flight across the few years that had separated us from her childhood to now, and as we landed—bounced—landed again, and taxied to the hangar, I anxiously awaited her approval as she would’ve awaited mine long ago.

She undid the harness, slipped the leather helmet from her head so the pony tail swung out, and then with a smile I’d waited to see for so long, she turned and replied to my, “So?” with, “I liked it…” And she pulled herself up by the top wing and just had to add: “Not much of a landing, though.”

And that’s my Emily, flying again at fourteen.


© 2005, Paul Berge; all rights reserved; first appeared in the Pacific Flyer, Wayman Dunlap, publisher

Monday, July 9, 2007

Gone West: Ed Marquart

Designed Marquart "Charger" Biplane

EAA member #198, Edwin E. “Ed” Marquart (right; photo by Andy Anderson), died on July 4 of natural causes. He was 85. Until recently, Ed could be found at Riverside, California's Flabob Airport. According to the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association): "Nearly 500 plan sets of his most popular design, the MA-5 Charger biplane were sold."

It's unknown how many Chargers are flying.

Serial #120 (below at the right), parked on the Benson AZ ramp, was built in 1981 by Roy C. Wicker of Quitman, GA.

For more on Ed Marquart visit the EAA Chapter #1 website at:

For more on the Marquart Charger, see:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

TSA Should "Get A Little Tougher" on SUVs. Part 2 in a series by Paul Berge

After Saturday's terrorist attack on the Glasgow, Scotland Airport, in which a Jeep SUV crashed into the terminal and burst into flames, Homeland Insecurity boss, Michael Chertoff, might be thinking about refocusing his efforts from getting tough with those darn "small airplanes," he so despises, to banning all SUVs before things get out of his control and Americans end up ignoring him completely.

As reported last week ( and as gleaned from the June 16, 2007 NY Times ©, Michael Chertoff-- who's rumored to become the new host of the Fox-TV hit series, America's Greatest Fears ©--has expressed his desire to "get a little tougher" on General Aviation by further restricting what he casually referred to as "small planes." Ignore for a moment the fact that so-called "small planes" pose no threat to anyone, and any self-respecting (oxymoron, I know), fanatical, god-abusing terrorist wouldn't be seen seeking martyrdom in something that would bounce off most structures (think: the Cirrus that hit the apartment building along the East River or the B-25 bomber that hit the Empire State Building in 1945--tragic lose of life to crew but minimal damage to the structures).

Non-elected tough-guy, Chertoff, not only wants to needlessly restrict "small planes" but crack down on "small boats" so they can't, it's supposed, ram aircraft carriers, floating casinos or the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps, Chertoff in his zeal to keep all Americans indoors and safe from ourselves, has overlooked the threat of the hundreds of millions of wheeled vehicles on the road--each packed with dozens of gallons of explosive gasoline. These devices--as used in Oklahoma City 1995, every day in Baghdad and this week in Scotland--can be driven by anyone into anything and exploded. Solution: Get those SUVs safely locked away from their owners.

Once four-wheeled vehicles, "small planes" and bass boats are restricted by Chairman Chertoff, of the People's Committee On Homeland Insecurity, I highly encourage his excellency to cast a glance at the growing threat from gangs of middle-aged accountants, dentists and orthopedists freely buying and operating small, two-wheeled weapons delivery devices (TWWDD) along all American highways. Yes, I'm referring to the Harley Threat. We've all seen 'em; some of us ride 'em, but Chairman Chertoff must know what lethal potential a pack of 20, even, 30 Harley softails poses to his, our nation. So, Chertoff must Ban the Harleys! And don't think you Vespa riders are off the hook. Chertoff, undoubtedly, knows what terror lurks in your 60-miles-per-gallon souls. Ban the Vespas!

Ban the Hybrids!

Ban bicycles, skateboards, wheelchairs, walkers and inline blades!

Or: Ban Chertoff!

Remember: "First, the TSA came for the airline pilots, I ignored it, because it didn't affect me, a small-airplane owner. When they came for the corporate, charter and turbine pilots, I, again, ignored them, because it didn't affect me. Then--they came for me, and there was no one left to help." *


* With compliments to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Editorial by Hangar Flying Theater's host, Paul Berge, himself a "small plane" owner, flight instructor and voter.