There she is, sitting by the wash rack: the picture of health. You've just finished washing off the bugs and grime, vacuumed out the interior, and you can't wait to head out on your next cross-country. One thing that we often don't stop to consider however, is the question of whether or not the next aircraft you eagerly await flying looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside. I don't mean the upholstery or avionics, either.
I loved looking at airplanes when I was looking to buy my first plane. The exploration of the different models was incredibly interesting, and the stories that I stumbled across along the way helped to enlighten me about the challenges and, at times, the outright perils of ownership.
Whenever we fly from point A to point B, many of us use the Victor airway system, and we pick a route that offers us the smallest increase beyond a great circle distance, or the highest groundspeed ... and these days, perhaps the widest berth from unfriendly airspace. In addition, particularly in the IFR world, there's often more to it.
Which is safer: a well-used rental airplane flown by dozens of pilots, from students to high-timers; or a personally owned airplane, flown regularly by only one, certificated pilot?
This is a sad story, with an even sadder ending. Two pilots, who loved to fly their homebuilt Long EZ airplane (a very efficient canard design), got a bad case of get-there-itus. The problem was simple: they should have had a case of stop-and-figure-it-out-itus.
Oil is the lifeblood of your aircraft engine or engines. Despite what a few vendors will try to show you about additives, without engine oil, most aircraft engines will self-destruct quite quickly. This is one of the reasons why we are all trained to check the oil during our preflight and oil temperature and pressure soon after engine start.
Ten gallons -- about thirty bucks worth of avgas -- what'll it get you?
I owe my life to aviation mechanics. For one, my father was an A&P (certificated airframe and powerplant) mechanic (now called "maintenance technicians"). But even if you don't so literally derive your very existence from airplane wrench-turners, you almost certainly live today because of the skill and professionalism of aviation professionals who keep the airline and general aviation fleet going.
When I was young, I enjoyed watching Bugs Bunny and, on occasion, Bugs matched wits with Marvin the Martian ... who was usually working on blowing up the Earth. Bugs managed to foil Marvin, who had the usual line of the foiled nemesis: "Where's the big Kaboom?"
Years ago, I enjoyed reading the Peanuts comic strip written by Charles M. Schultz -- in one series, one of the characters was terrorized repeatedly by a fear of the dreaded Queen Snake.