Wednesday, September 22, 2021

WHAT'S UP by LeRoy Cook

We can’t ask for a better time of year to commit acts of aviation. There was some low-lying ground fog in the wee hours, otherwise the skies were wide open. Even my airline ride from Detroit to MCI at 32,000 feet Saturday evening was entirely cloud-free. The autumnal equinox took place this week, after which we’ll see the sun rise farther south of an east-west axis each day. That’ll bring shifts in the weather patterns.

There was dearth of transient activity this week, despite the fine weather. We did see a Cessna Skyhawk from Warrensburg landing on a training mission, a Piper Comanche 250 was in from Warsaw, an AirTractor sprayplane was back and a Piper Cherokee stopped by. Out of the local fleet, the Beech Bonanza N35 was flown to Superior, Wisconsin by Roy Conley, Kainen Nance took a Cessna 150 to Jefferson City and Columbia, I had the Cessna Skyhawk out and Jeff Arnold exercised a Cessna 150.

It is time once again for the Fliars Club to attempt a breakfast fly-out, this being the last Saturday morning of the month, so if you’re of a mind let’s meet at 0730 hours on the Butler airport ramp on the 25th. We’ll divide up the available seats, and the extra bodies can be strapped under the wings. Just kidding!

You may have noticed the new gates installed by the City beside the entrance to the south drive at the airport. This is to satisfy a requirement to separate vehicular and airplane traffic, so there’s no chance of a car coming into the drive while it’s being used to move an airplane. Seems silly, because the likelihood of that happening is remote, but you have to remember that 90% of the maintenance and improvements cost for our airport comes from the Aviation Trust Fund, and when you take government-issue money, it comes with a lot of strings attached. Never mind that this is money collected from airport users, not general revenue, so we’re really talking about our own aviation gas tax and other fees that, as pilots, we’ve paid. But the guvinmint thinks it’s their money, and if we want it we have to play the game. So, we had to put the gate up, and use FAA-approved engineering and contractors for the pavement repairs, and pay three times what we should for a beacon light replacement. 

At least we don’t have it as bad as some places. I visited an airport not much bigger than ours over the weekend, which had the full Homeland Security package. Chain link fence 10 feet high around the whole property, card-reader gates to gain access to your hangar, a terminal building that needed an access code to get to the rest rooms and a Covid mask mandate anytime you’re under a roof. Very little flying activity was going on; I wonder why. 

 Our weekly brain-teaser from last week asked, “what are the three definitions of “night flight” in the FAA’s Aviation Regulations?” Yep, there’s three ways to describe when it’s officially. The aircraft’s position lights have to be turned on right at sunset, you can’t fly at night with passengers if you’re not current if it’s more than an hour after sunset, and it’s not loggable night time unless civil twilight has passed. Here’s an easy one for next week: what happens if you burn lower-octane fuel in an engine rated for 100-octane? You can send your answer to

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