Monday, July 18, 2005


Yellowbird Journalism

Pilot reports are standard fare in the general aviation press. Each issue will have at least one report on the latest offerings ranging from spam cans to bizjets. Reporters typically give description of the flying qualities, a discussion of any good or bad features, comparisons with similar models, and maybe a thumbnail history of the development. The point of view can be as objective or subjective as the reporter desires - some read like technical documentation, others read like advertisements. The fact that aircraft manufacturers are also advertisers may color some reviews. Journalistic objectivity can be hard to maintain when advertising dollars are at stake, but who really wants to read a depressing article about airplanes?

The issue at issueIf reporters were limited to covering the latest aircraft, they'd have a hard time filling their pages. So, and given the health of the used aircraft market, reviews of older models fly side by side with the latest advances. It's not uncommon to pick up a recent issue and see reviews of, say, a Cherokee 140 and the latest Cirrus or Citation. The universe of older airplanes is relatively stable, so reviews of the same type tend to pop up every few years, with maybe a slightly new twist to make them worth reprinting. Cardinals have been reviewed a number of times since their inception, but their rarity compared to the other Cessnas and Pipers makes them an infrequent guest in the aviation press. Still, even as recently as 1998, you could pick up an issue of Flying magazine and find an article on fixed gear Cardinals.

Let's Go!It's not a bad review, although it spends most of five pages covering the troubled development and sales history of Cessna's 177 line. If you are Cardinal shopping, you'll find a more detailed review in the pages of Aviation Consumer, but one thing you won't find in either review is photo coverage of a very special Cardinal. The pictures are nice, if not overly detailed, and they do show her off pretty well. She doesn't get top billing, but she does get to strut her stuff a little. And if the text doesn't tell an entirely happy story, at least the pictures will make you smile.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


The Annual Report - 2005

She lives, and it wasn't too painful. Apart from the usual fluids and filters, the only extra cost to the inspection was the replacement of the brake linings, for a whopping price of $12.50 each.

A short list of minor squawks was also addressed, including:
  1. Replacement of the trim rod end, to fix some play in the trim tab
  2. Adjustment of the flap up-limit switch, to allow the flaps to retract completely.
  3. Replacement of the aging alternator belt.
  4. Replacement of two smoking rivets at the seam between the upper cowl and nose cap.
  5. Replacement of a cracked fitting on the manifold pressure line.
  6. Replacement of the old carburetor intake SCAT duct.
Compressions were good, at 78/80, 76/80, 78/80, and 76/80, but she had some oil on the plugs in two cylinders. Glazed cylinders or leaking rings are suspects, but the Mattituck representative I talked with felt that if that were the case, we would be seeing oil consumption far in excess of the quart or so every ten hours that we have been seeing. We're going to check the oil consumption and plugs again after a few hours and see if they warrant a closer look at the cylinders.

The only other issue that came up is one that has had us puzzled. Ever since replacing her old attitude indicator with a New Sigma Tek AI, I've seen some significant vibration of the "football" (the portion of the indicator face which pivots up and down to indicate pitch attitude) at certain engine RPM's. I've avoided prolonged operation at those RPM's pending a resolution, but so far, replacing the gyro panel shock mounts and rebalancing the propeller haven't helped. During the annual, we replaced the attitude indicator with another new one, only to experience the same vibrations as before. All the vacuum system components have checked out satisfactorily, and we haven't seen anything yet that could be causing the vibration. The gyro guru at Sigma Tek hasn't seen anything like this before, so we're all stumped. There are a few more leads we could follow, so the story's not over yet.