Archive for December, 2008

Really dumb placards

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

There’s a lot of wisdom in cockpit placards. But there’s plenty of absurdity, too.

The plane I own is a single-seat RV-3 with a big “experimental” sticker in the cockpit. Yet the plane is also required to have a “passenger warning” that tells of the experimental nature of the plane, despite the fact it’s got no passenger seats.

A BE-36 Bonanza I get to fly from time to time has some classics such as “Minimum Flight Crew: One,” and “Do Not Smoke While Oxygen Is In Use.”

AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer has a bunch of placards, and some of them are downright comical. My favorite appears below the JPI fuel computer. The JPI is astonishingly accurate and gives a constant readout of fuel used and fuel (and time) remaining. Yet the placard beneath it tells pilots to rely on the inherently unreliable, 32-year-old, float-type fuel gauge (the one the plane was certified with in 1976). Would any thinking person really trust a disco-era gauge when a modern, digital instrument as accurate as an eye-dropper is a few inches away?

Bruce Dickenson, a highly accomplished pilot and aircraft builder in California, posted this placard on the door of his most recent creation: a stunningly gorgeous and highly modified Howard DGA:

It says “Warning! For your safety . . . please stand back 4 feet from this aircraft. This aircraft has been HOMEBUILT and could fall on you at any time. Furthermore . . . because this aircraft was built by a Farmer and Retired Cop, it is branded amateur-built, so please stand an additional 6 feet back. If you choose to come within these boundaries, please be warned that this is an Experimental Aircraft and we have no idea what it will do at any moment! The Farmer”

Please write and let us know about your favority placards!

A jewel of a find on Google

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Quite by accident today I discovered that Google is the home of the newly digitized LIFE magazine archive. When I did a search for “aviation,” I got more than 200 images. Here’s my favorite, taken in 1943 by Peter Stackpole and labeled, “Female pilot of the US Women’s Air Force Service posed w. her leg up on the wing of an airplane.”* Just in time for the holidays, you can order a framed copy of your favorite print, and prices start at $79.99. Even if aviation isn’t your main passion, the LIFE archive is ever so much more of a satisfying lunchtime surfing experience than, say, a certain video of an aerobatic airplane that purportedly loses its wing in flight…

*If you can ID the aircraft in the photo, tell me in the Comments section.

How to make an emergency landing

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

The Los Angeles Times is showing this video of a Cessna 310 that made an emergency landing at Van Nuys Airport on the north side of Los Angeles in late November with a failed nose gear. The pilot minimized the damage to his airplane by keeping the nose off the runway as long as possible.