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Sunday, December 6, 2020

In the old days, a CFI was for a lifetime

What’s Up
By LeRoy Cook

Airplanes were everywhere you looked last weekend, it seemed. It was a beautiful end to a week of shifting fronts and a lot of pilots were eager to stretch their wings. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky to inhibit aviation, making it a worthy endeavor.

Among the aircraft passing through were a Piper Twin Comanche, a Piper Warrior, a Cessna Skyhawk and an early Beech Bonanza 35. A skydiver brought a Cessna Skylane in to participate in the last SkyDive KC parachute jumps of 2020 on Saturday. Out of the local fleet, Jerimie Platt and Maggie were up in the family Grumman Tiger and several students were out in the Cessna 150.

On Thursday I met with the FAA to renew myexpiring Flight Instructor certificate. It was the 28th time I had gone through this exercise since becoming a CFI in December of 1965, unless I’ve jumped track by making an early renewal in adding a new rating. That might have been the case when I acquired the FIG (flight instructor, glider) designation one summer. In any event, the CFI certification is only good for 24 months, at which point it has to be renewed by completing training or presenting evidence of sufficient activity, which is my preferred method. Before my time, flight instructor privileges were a non-expiring rating on one’s pilot certificate,, but when the FAA was created in 1958 it was decided to make both flight and ground instructor ratings separate certificates, the CFI to be limited in duration.

The scourge of Airworthiness Directives still has to be expected by aircraft owners, who are forced to comply if a defect is determined by the FAA maintenance division. Among the most numerous of late are those imposed on the Piper Cherokee PA-28 and PA-32 series, which need a wing spar inspection, and the Cessna 172 and 182 models that were found to have cracking in the doorpost area. Both require expenditure of time and money to satisfy the AD requirement. Nobody wants to fly an unsafe airplane, but sometimes we have to wonder if AD’s are issued to protect manufacturers from liability.

I ran into some light sleet mixed with rain last week, reminding us that nice weather won’t always prevail as we head into winter. Little airplanes don’t handle ice accumulation very well, so we must be prepared to execute an escape plan if we venture out in cold cloudy weather. Divert, don’t just keep plowing along until the wings won’t hold you up any longer.

Our continuing saga of the funkiest little airplanes from the 1940s, the Funk two-seaters built in Coffeyville, Kansas, posed the question “what kind of engine was used in the first Funks?” It was a converted Ford Model B automobile motor, similar to but successor to the Model A, modified to run upside down so it would fit on the airplane’s nose. At 50 hp maximum, it wasn’t powerful enough, so most Funks used an air-cooled Continental A-65. For next time, tell us what kind of civilian airplane was flying over Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. You can send your answers to