Oshkosh: New Front Vents/Airboxes for Grummans

July 29, 2008

Hi Grumman owners, pilots, and fans!  At Airventure 2008 (Oshkosh) today, there was a forum for Grumman owners hosted by Greg Erikson, that included an update from Kevin Lancaster of True Flight Aerospace and a maintenance presentation led by John Sjaardema of Excel-Air Services.  Also an update on a couple of Grumman STC projects such as his new cowling by Gary Vogt of AUCounty Aviation

Kevin was able to get an exhibit spot at Oshkosh (#52) so be sure and visit if you are planning to attend Airventure.  He provided an update on Tiger production, with installation of production lines into their building scheduled to start in a couple of weeks.

True Flight Aerospace at Airventure 2008

True Flight Aerospace at Airventure 2008

After discussing some serious potential maintenance issues with our aging Grumman airplanes, John displayed a couple of new items related to the front air vents (where you currently have those vintage, usually broken, automobile design louvered vent openings). He has a replacement vent insert that includes 2 eyeball vents that pop right into existing opening. John said the price was about $80 for a set of pilot and copilot sides.  Contact him if you want them.

More interesting is a prototype John has developed that replaces the entire air vent plenum box on each side below the instrument panel.  This is still a prototype and John wants to know if there is interest among Grumman owners to purchase these replacement vent boxes.  Here’s a shot of the prototype hot off the Oshkosh forum today:

What is pictured is a right-hand side vent with the narrow end that matches up with the ventilation opening in the fuselage.  It will have two eyeball vents as shown that close tightly (for you cold-weather pilots).  This lightweight design will just snap into place beneath the outer edges of the instrument panel. And it opens up the area below the instrument panel for more leg room or for you and your A&P to install a supplemental panel for switches or instruments that people are now installing in the air plemun boxes (and subject to dirt and moisture).  If you are interested in these new boxes, contact John directly at his website above, or leave a message on the AYA Maintenance Forum, or use the Grumman Gang email system to make your thoughts known.

Thanks, John for this innovation.  Also thanks to Kevin, Gary, Erik, and all the folks who participated in the forum today.

Airventure 2008 at Oshkosh – Hog Wild for Flying!

July 27, 2008

Arrival day at AIRVENTURE 2008, Sunday July 27!!  Or, simply, “Oshkosh”.  Thank you, EAA! This truly is the spirit of “Hog Wild for Flying!  500,000 people and 10,000 airplanes in one week at one airport. Awesome!

Airventure 2008 at Oshkosh!

Airventure 2008 at Oshkosh!

More after the break:

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Skip Airlines — Fly General Aviation! Top 10 Reasons

June 21, 2008

Have to fly the airlines to get to your work destination?  Or perhaps to a vacation spot?  Well, prepare yourself for a system that has steadily become one of the worst experiences imaginable. 

But there is an option. General Aviation. Smaller planes that you can fly yourself or hire as a charter.  This isn’t just for the corporate elite or the rich and famous.  Ironically, the changes in the airline industry are making General Aviation more and more an attractive option.

“GA Serving America” describes some advantages of using GA aircraft compared to the airlines.  With the changes in the economy and the airline system, we can update this.  Here are my top 10 reasons for skipping the airlines and flying by general aviation.

10.  You are responsible for your flight (or work with a motivated charter crew). You have control over the flight, even if just working with a polite, responsive charter crew. No pilots cancelling flights because they are “too upset to fly”. No surly airline flight and cabin crew. You have to feel for them, though. They are suffering through reduced salaries and benefits, loss of job security, and overloaded flights full of delayed, abused, and frustrated passengers. 

9.  Best seats on the plane.  Usually every seat is a window seat and as the pilot, you have the very best seat on the house, with a grand view of the entire flight.  Fly a charter and you not be subjected to a middle seat.  As part of the growing ala-carte (lack of) service program, airlines are going to charge you a premium for aisle and window seats; up to $15 (so far…) over your base ticket price! And cell phones on flights may be in the future if the airlines can find a way to charge to use them!  Avoid this nonsense by flying yourself.

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Hog-Wild for Flying!…Let’s Show It!

April 13, 2008

Ok, enough about motorcycles.  I’ve talked about what we can learn from that community and some interesting safety comparisons.  But this blog is about flying!

Time to apply the lessons.  And I need your help for this!

We’ve all seen the doom and gloom articles.  Will the cost of flying and the shrinking pilot population result on the end of General Aviation as we know it?  Will we be priced, aged, and legislated out of existance?

I say NO!  We will not go quietly!  In fact, It’s Time to Grow!


Ok, so how do we grow?

Two separate but related strategies:

1.  Create a real, vibrant, active, exciting Flying Community.  Build on the good work of the EAA, the 99s, and local flying clubs.  But take it to the next level.  Think “COMMUNITY” not just “organization”.  The internal glue that binds us and the identity that we show the world.  And use the media (like FlightTime Radio, for example) to grow awareness and excitement about GA flying and our Community.

2.  Entice and introduce potential owners/pilots to flying.  Think EAA “Young Eagles” program, but focused on adults.  Introduce them to our Community!  Cast a wide net, with activities and incentives to plant their butts in that right seat for the first time. You know, flying really sells itself!  It includes resources like “Be A Pilot“, but it’s much more than that.  Then, build on the AOPA “Project Pilot” program to mentor these new recruits.

What ideas do you have to build and grow our GA Community?  Please share and I’ll include them in future posts.  What works (and doesn’t work?) for you?  What is YOUR favorite part of flying? 

Next up:  Building a Real Flying Community.

After that:  Let’s Get Growing!

Prior Posts in the series:

Hog Wild for Flying…Now We’re Talking!  (FlightTime Radio)

Hog Wild for Flying…Comparing Safety (GA Flying versus Motorcycles)

Hog Wild for Flying…Part 2  (what is it about the Harley image…)

Hog Wild for Flying…Part 1  (What aren’t more people excited about Flying?)

Learning Formation Flying – Grumman Style

March 30, 2008

Spring is here.  Time to learn a new skill.  Just started to learn formation flying in my Grumman Tiger.  Working with a group of other Grumman pilots, using the T-34 and FFI training procedures.   I’m still a “nugget” (new guy). 


 This was one hell of a great weekend.  I’ve still got a lot to learn with only a couple of flights under my belt so far.  After so many years focusing on avoiding other aircraft, it’s quite a mental challenge joining up with other aircraft in flight.  Requires lots of concentration and precise control, but the results are work it.

These guys are so far ahead of me….but I’ll get there.



Hog-Wild for Flying!…Now We’re Talking!

January 28, 2008

If you are one of the tens who have been reading my series of posts about getting more people “Hog-Wild for Flying” (learning from our friends who are part of the Harley community), I have Good News!!  A flegling commercial radio program has begun for GA, and by the looks of the hosts, sponsorship and content so far, I think their future is bright!

I discovered this link in my EAA e-newsletter that led me to a new weekly broadcast radio program out of Jacksonville, Florida.  It’s called FlightTime Radio, and the focus of the show is general aviation, particularly the small GA planes that most of us fly.  Plus a heaping helping of Sport Pilot and aircraft discussion.  The show is broadcast on AM 1320 (WBOB) Saturday mornings.  Starting February 2, the live broadcast starts at 10am, Eastern time, and they seem to have settled on a 2-hour show. 


 Like every good Web 2.0 endeavor, you can also listen to the show live using a link at their website, or you can download (and soon subscribe to) the shows as podcasts.

The two hosts are Milford Shirley and Brian Kraut, a couple of local guys who love aviation and are having what sounds like one heck of a good time breaking into the radio biz.  It’s great to have this positive, enthusiastic image of GA being communicated to the general public on a weekly basis 

Milton and Brian are thinking ahead, too, seeking to grow their radio broadcast market and helping local EAA chapters at the same time.  Get the program broadcast on your local station, and your EAA chapter can get a piece of the action.

Now if every pilot tells two people, who tell two people, who tell two people….about this radio show….maybe we can plant some seeds….   Did my part.  I’ve told, what, maybe 10 people who read this blog:-)

Bravo, Milford and Brian!  Best of luck to you!

Hog-Wild for Flying!…Comparing Safety

January 4, 2008

I’ve been comparing flying to riding motorcycles in terms of popularity, attitude, and social environment, to understand why more people are not drawn to private flying. 

Recently, I came upon several articles about motorcycle and aviation safety. The results may suggest how we communicate private flying to the population of potential pilots and aircraft owners. It turns out that the safety trends for motorcycles and GA flying are diverging.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle fatalities are climbing, particularly for over-40 age riders. In 2006, fatalities increased overall by 5% over 2005, while fatalities for riders aged 40-49 and 50-59 increased 7.5% and 10% (fatalities for riders aged 20-29 also increased 10%).  These older riders have achieved business success, raised families, and now want the excitement and feeling that comes from freedom, speed, the open road, and the social environment provided by riding motorcycles.  But this experience on generally heavier, more powerful bikes comes at a price for the older, slower healing bodies.


In contrast, the 2006 general aviation safety statistics in the Nall Report show continued improvements in both total and fatal accident rates.  In 2006, total accident numbers dropped by 8.3%, fatal accidents dropped by 6.5%, and total fatalities decreased by 2%.  Single engine, fixed gear aircraft, 2/3 of the GA fleet, showed substantial safety improvement, with total accidents dropping 11.3% and fatal accidents dropping 22.4%. While it can be argued that any fatality is too many, the trend continues in a positive direction.  The danger signal though, is that flying activity continues to drop.  Accident and fatality rates are dropping, but so are the flying hours. 

Nall Report Trends 2006        ga-stat.jpg

So which is safer; GA flying or motorcycles?  That’s a loaded question. Objective comparisons are difficult since GA flying is measured in flying hours and motorcycle riding is measured in miles traveled. Converting hours to miles involve speed assumptions that are likely targets for criticism. What average speed do you assume for GA aircraft with average cruise speeds that range from sub-100 mph up to over 500 mph?  Even assuming speeds at the lower end of this range shows GA flying to have far lower fatality rates than motorcycles.  But it’s still a difficult comparison because the operating environment and accident facts are so different. That said, GA flying is relatively safer and the safety margin is increasing compared with riding motorcycles.

But can flying provide the visceral satisfaction that is found in riding motorcycles, so participants are able to enjoy this safety premium?  There is certainly an aspect of freedom once you get off the ground (no traffic lanes, still areas of uncontrolled airspace).  There is speed.  There is also a 3rd dimension that can be fully explored via aerobatics.  And there is community, although this is one area that needs work.  So we have some of this also working for us.

The goal here is not to lure away everyone who rides.  Certain traits make people better candidates to be pilots, and we want to attract those folks.  Can we learn from other successful activities, what attracts the participants, and where does GA flying have benefits or have deficiencies that can be overcome so we grow but remain safe?

Safety is one area where we accel (and where we continue to focus efforts).  How can we use this comparative benefit to get new participants….hog wild for flying?


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