Friday, March 28, 2008

Hot rodding has always been about passion.

Reprinted with permission from SEMA. Written by Jim Spoonhower, Vice President of Research

It all goes back to the earliest days of the industry when passionate young men met on the dry lake beds to see who could make their car go the fastest. Just talk to any of the icons of hot rodding and you will hear the same story. They were driven to find ways to make their cars go faster, they were hugely competitive and they enjoyed being in the company of other hot rodders. The relationships were so strong that they thought nothing of helping each other out. Push a fellow competitor’s car, loan another hot rodder tools, give another guy parts—it was all part of what the hobby was about.

Here we are, 70 years later, and hot rodding may be more sophisticated, but at its foundation, it’s still basically the same. Granted, speed isn’t quite the strong factor it was, but as you look at hot rods today, they invariably have the right equipment to go fast, even if they never do. People gather here and there across the country to show off their cars, see what others have done with theirs and build relationships. These are people who will invest thousands of hours and tons of money to make their favorite car look just so.

The people involved are still passionate about their cars, so much so that in 2007 they spent $1.06 billion on products for them. It's a passion that has caused retail sales to increase more than 66% in the last 10 years.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Are owners required to comply with a Service Bulletin?

Does my aviation insurance policy require me to comply with a Service Bulletin?

I don't know of any language in a policy that requires the owner to comply with a service bulletin. The policies will have language about having an aircraft that is in "current airworthiness". That brings up the question, "What is required to make the plane airworthy?"

I personally think a SB is a recommendation and not required for Part 91 operations. I do think it is required for Part 135 operations. Also, I believe that if it is required by the manufacturer that you meet the SB then, I suppose, it would make it indirectly required.

But, don't take my word on it. I would ask your mechanic or the FSDO office in your area

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NMMA Action Alert:

Help Stop Federal Boat Permitting. Urge Your Senators to Cosponsor S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008
March 17, 2008

The Threat to Recreational Boating. Unless Congress acts soon, every recreational boater in the country will have to obtain a federal or state permit in order to operate their boat. This means yearly fees, bureaucratic red tape, confusing and potentially state-by-state regulations, citizen suits and $32,000 per day penalties for non-compliance. These permits would apply to deck run-off, bilge water, engine cooling water and any other water-based, operational discharge from a recreational boat.

The Environmental Protection Agency, due to a sweeping court order, is already writing this unprecedented new regulation on boaters.

The Clean Boating Act of 2008. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have just introduced S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. S. 2766 would fully and permanently restore a 35-year permit exemption for recreational boat incidental discharges, such as weather deck run-off and engine coolant water, and works to protect the health of the nation's waterways by pursuing whether or not reasonable and practicable best management practices need to be put into place for some incidental discharges. This important bill preserves recreational boating and the boating industry, taking a balanced approached that recognizes that pleasure boat discharges are completely different from land-based industrial facilities and commercial ships.

What You Can Do Today to Protect Boating. NMMA strongly urges all its members and all boating industry employees to contact their Senators and tell them to co-sponsor S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. You can quickly and easily send a letter to your Senators by visiting Once, there, simply type in your zip code and click send. This is the most significant threat facing the boating industry today, and we need your help to solve it. Take 5 minutes to tell Congress to support S. 2766.

Contact your Senators

Contact Mat Dunn (; 202-737-9760) or Dylan Jones (; 202-737-9776) so we can follow up with your Senators.

Should you fly before you buy a plane?

If you sent a deposit to the seller and you made the effort to inspect the aircraft, you should get to fly the aircraft. Don't let the seller tell you, "there is no need to fly aircraft, they all fly the same".

Never buy an aircraft without flying it first!

Do you buy clothing, shoes or cars without trying them out first? You should apply the same consumer logic to an aviation transaction. If you can return the aircraft after you buy it, then your risk is reduced if you buy it without inspecting and flying it. But you usually don't have that option.

Some reasons a seller may not want you to fly it first is; because it doesn't have insurance on it, something is not functioning properly (not airworthy), it is out of annual and/or the owner isn’t current or qualified to fly.

If the seller won’t let you fly it before you buy it, how do you know it will fly home? You may not be able to fly as Pilot in Command due to the seller’s insurance policy but that shouldn’t prohibit you from being in the right seat. Single place aircraft raise another issue; you can’t fly with the seller.

Before you send a deposit or set out to inspect the aircraft, you should ask about test flying the aircraft and be cautious if you can’t ride or fly before you buy.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Reprinted with permission from the SEMA Website. Even if you are not involved in the automotive industry, but just a car owner, you should check out the SEMA website. Look up whats happening in your state on the SEMA site.

Pro-Hobbyist Street Rod and Replica Vehicle Bill Moves in Iowa; House Vote to be Scheduled Soon.

A version of SEMA model legislation (H.F. 2452) that would create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica vehicles was approved by the Iowa House Transportation committee and will soon be brought to the floor of the House for a vote by all members.

Introduced by State Representative Jim Lykam (, H.F. 2452 defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 or a vehicle designed to resemble a vehicle manufactured before 1949. The bill defines a replica vehicle as a reproduction of an originally manufactured vehicle with the substitution or addition of parts to update the vehicle for purposes of safety, performance or reliability. The bill allows street rods and replica vehicles to be assigned a registration designation bearing the same model year that the body of the vehicle resembles.

We Urge You to Contact Members of the Iowa House Leadership (List Attached Below) Immediately to Request Their Support for H.F. 2452.

H.F. 2452 provides specific registration classes for street rods and replicas.

H.F. 2452 provides that a street rod or replica may display registration plates from the model year of the motor vehicle or the model year the vehicle is designed to resemble.

H.F. 2452 provides for a registration fee of $10.

H.F. 2452 provides that the owner of a street rod or replica vehicle shall self-certify that the vehicle is in compliance with certain equipment specifications.

Iowa House Leadership
Speaker of the House, Pat MurphyE-mail:

Speaker Pro Tem, Polly ButkaE-mail:
Home E-mail:

House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthyE-mail:

Assistant Majority Leader, Lisa HeddensE-mail:

Assistant Majority Leader, Helen MillerE-mail:

Assistant Majority Leader, Mike ReasonerE-Mail:

Assistant Majority Leader, John WhitakerE-mail:

Please e-mail a copy of your letters to Steve McDonald at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yes, Virginia there is affordable LSA’s.

Before I go on, let me get on my soapbox. The Sport plane category has opened the door for a lot of people to get back into flying. Especially the target market, pilots without medicals. But what about adding to the pilot starts? You know, bringing new people into the market and getting them interested in aviation. I think that’s one thing that has not been marketed to…yet.

When I was researching my book, Ultimate Boat Maintenance Project, I discovered that the National Marine Manufacturers Association estimated that there were over 70 million people participating in the recreational marine industry. 70 million! Wow, think about that number and the clout that market has. It should be a powerful force when it comes to water front access, regulations, etc. Yet, the marine industry is worried about losing market share.

Why do you suppose that is? Cost of participation? Cost of entry level boats, maintenance or training that is required? I don’t think so. It’s not any different than aviation. We are all in the same boat (no pun intended). Sure all those items are a factor for boats and planes.

But, I think “time” is a bigger problem. Today we are more involved in activities than ever before. Kids in multiple sports, families eating in their cars, or even shopping online.

Technology has made it easier to do many things at once and technology has removed the need for the “real” experience. Why spend the money to actually take up flying when I can do more on a simulator. The average person can “virtually” take up any sport or activity through computer, video games and reality shows. Why are reality shows so popular? The public can vicariously participate without spending time actually doing the activity.

When the Sport plane market started I believed it was going to be a great entry level way for people to get into flying. The training requirements were almost the same as driver’s education requirements. Cost of the planes should be reasonable and maintenance could be performed by the owner like owning a boat or car. All of that was, and let me point out, is well and good, except we don’t see it.

The general public has not been the target market. The ads, the promotion and the marketing emphasis have been to existing pilots without medicals; it’s the old “preaching to the choir” problem. People in aviation, like aviation and want to stay in aviation. On a side note, Cirrus and a few other manufacturers have seen the new market, they advertise in magazines other than aviation magazines.

Until the aviation marketing guru’s put the sport plane into the general public market, they will not be seeing the increases necessary to maintain the industry. The Sport Plane category can compete with personal watercraft, boats, motorcycles and travel trailers. Most of the people that I have met participate in more than one industry. They have boats, cars AND snowmobiles. Adding a Sport plane can actually enhance their other activities.

I know what you are going to say, it is the cost of the plane. The feeling is that even though the market might be there, the cost to get in is too high. Sport planes cost close to $100,000. If you don’t buy a high priced new one, then your only option is to look for an old (I mean really old) antique plane that would fit the category. Not necessarily true.

There are more affordable sport planes. There are new and used sport planes that cost less than $100,000. In fact, there are many that can be bought for less than $60,000. If you are willing to put a little elbow grease into the building process, you can be in the lane at less than $30,000. Still too much?

You know our problem, the Cessna 150 spoiled many of us. You could buy used Cessna a150’s for $5,000, to $20,000. There are thousands of used ones available. They are the perfect plane for most people, except that they don’t meet the sport plane category criteria. Yes, it is a shame the Cessna 150 wasn’t approved for the sport category, but it wasn’t. So we have no choice but to look elsewhere.

So what else is there?

There are old planes like Champs, J3 Cubs and the Aircoupe. There are a lot of planes that can be built or bought that meet the sport category and many of them are tri-cycle gear.

I won’t got through a huge list but let me mention a few aircraft that come to mind. The Zenith 601 and 701 are basic straight forward aircraft. They are very comfortable and easy to fly. I really like the 701; it has all the short field performance of a helicopter. Okay, so not quite a helicopter, but what a fun off road airplane.

The Sonex and Rans aircraft are nice efficient, two seat planes that can be bought used, or built for a reasonable cost. But that’s not all, start watching for the older Kitfox and Avid Flyers. Check out the Pober Pixie and the “Ragwing” Pitts. I have customers that are building planes that are going to be in the LSA category although they were not originally designed as an LSA, in this case the EAA Biplane and the KR2S.

Just to makes sure planes like these were available, I research a number different models that were for sale. In a quick search I located a Sonex tri gear for $40,000 and an Avid Flyer for $10,500. Oh and I forgot a couple of older heavy ultra lights for less than $10,000. Also, don’t forget weight shift trikes and Para-planes!

Really want to see what’s available?

Make plans to attend Sun “n Fun in April. Sun ‘n Fun is always the season’s big kickoff show. The location in Florida is great, the atmosphere is relaxed and the assortment of planes is huge. This the second largest sport aviation show. Second only to Oshkosh! Attend Sun ‘n Fun and find your next plane so that you can fly to Oshkosh later in the summer. (And I hear the USAF Thunderbirds will be performing at Sun ‘n Fun!)

Remember, reasonable price is in the “eye of the beholder”. The range can be from $5,000 to $105,000. That’s something the buyer has to decide. These alternate planes will not be in the production numbers of the Cessna, but they are available. With a little patience you should be able to find a used aircraft that fits the LSA category and your pocketbook.