Monday, February 27, 2017

Proficiency training Simulator or aircraft?

The following question from a customer asked about doing regular training.  Its important to note that sometimes insurance companies require training in a specific class or category of aircraft.  For example; if you fly a pressurized or cabin class aircraft, you will probably be required to get "factory approved"  initial ground and flight training along with recurrent training after that. Most companies require recurrent every year but there are a few that will go for two or three years between the training. A lot depends on the type of aircraft you are flying.   

That said ---- 

Q. Proficiency.  I'm thinking of going to a school such as RTC, Flight Safety etc.  Most of these companies do simulator training.  Am I better off going out with an instructor, doing the FAA Wings kind of thing, or going to a school?  Training in the airplane will give me some dual, my Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) and my flight review?  Which is a better way to go?

A. That’s a tough one.  From an insurance standpoint, many of the underwriters require training from a factory approved school that specializes in your specific aircraft.  That training is often in a simulator and counts as your IPC, flight review and dual.  That is if it’s from an approved school or training institution. 

I’m a big believer in the FAA Wings programs and flight simulators to keep a pilot proficient.  If the weather is really bad or your checkbook is a little empty, flying with a Flight Simulator program on your home computer can be a great help.  While it might not be logging "real" hours, it can sure help keep your mind in the flying mood.  The Flight Sim program can overlay weather, set up approaches and do almost everything a pilot need s to do to feel comfortable in their aircraft.  Flying to a new destination?  Set up the Flight Sim program to fly into the area, make a few approaches and you’ll feel like you been there before when you get there for the first time.

Whenever possible take advantage of flying the real thing and practice.   Sure I like simulators and software, but I think the real proficiency comes from flying the aircraft.  That’s why we buy an aircraft to begin with.  Hook up with a qualified instructor that you like and go out and have fun and learn at the same time.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Do most aircraft sell for base book value?

 Question.  I have read your book *"How to Buy a Single Engine Airplane" and learned a great deal.  One question I have is that since you have done so many plane transactions, you made mention that you see most planes go close to the base retail price as noted on Vref? 

Is it still a buyer’s market? If that is still true, would a better deal be below base retail?  As I look at pre-owned planes I want to make sure I don't pay too much.  Thanks for your advice if you have time to answer this email.

Answer. Thanks for the email. I personally think that it is still a buyer’s market.  I am still seeing a slight increase in sales, but the market still seems to be slower than it has been in years past.  I’ll guess that a lot of people have an opinion about this.  I also see a lot of prices when we are insuring aircraft purchases.  I try and keep an eye on the values of the new transaction and compare them to the book to see what the buyers are paying. And the underwriters will question a value that is too high or too low. 

Remember, this is my opinion about the market. 

I think that many of the aircraft advertised are overpriced and now that the investment and aviation markets seem to be growing again, the sellers are reluctant to lower their prices for a sale and risk losing money.   Additionally, fairly low interest rates will allow sellers to keep a higher price.  The sales pitch is that the payments will still be low.

My guess is that the seller will try and wait for the higher price BUT, even then, it appears that most of the aircraft end up selling for a price that is around the base values listed in the books.

The Vref base value takes into account the average number of hours that the aircraft should have on the airframe and engine at the time of sale.  The base price also includes a standard radio package for the model and an average condition.  That is probably representative of over 50 percent of the aircraft on the market.  So the base price is probably representative of over 50 percent of the aircraft for sale.  Sure, you can add for low engine time and low airframe, but it all seems to balance back towards the base price.  A plane with a low total time, say 1,500 hours, will get an increase in value for the hours.  But if the engine has 1,500 hours on it also (and a 2,000 TBO) the book will reduce the value for the engine hours over the halfway point of 1,000 hours.  Typically, the value of the engine per hour is higher than the airframe per hours.

Of course, if you have an aircraft that is loaded with all kinds of fancy modifications or avionics, the price will probably not be close to the base book values.  But on the average, basic book values are pretty close.

*The book "How to Buy a Single Engine Airplane" is out of print.  
But email me for a packet of buyers tips. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Honda Marine Unveils Design Concept Engine at Miami International Boat Show 2017

Honda Marine Unveils Design Concept Engine at Miami International Boat Show 2017
Sleek, Aerodynamic, Powerful and Stylish – Honda Marine Concept Engine Reveals a Bold Future for Honda Marine

Honda Marine breaks the mold for marine engines at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show with a bold concept engine that could power the future of boating. With inspiration from across Honda’s lineup – including automotive, marine and aeronautical – the design concept engine is a blue sky vision for what future marine engines could look like.

Honda Marine keeps the momentum rolling with the debut at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show of a concept engine that could power the future of boating.

·       Sleek, Stylish concept engine – inspired by the Acura NSX American-made Supercar – imagines a bold new engine for the future of what marine engines could be

·       New ‘Destination Honda’ display showcases a new look and lifestyle destination at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show
·       Refreshed Honda Marine BF40 and BF50 engines make their first appearance at a boat show

For complete details, please see the attached news release as well as select images showcasing this new design concept engine.  This release, plus additional hi-resolution photos, are available for download at in the Honda Marine section of the site:

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Largest Assembly of P-51 Mustangs to Fly in Over a Decade during the 43rd Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Exp

The Largest Assembly of P-51 Mustangs to Fly in Over a Decade during the 43rd Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo

(February 16, 2017 Lakeland, FL) Located at the Kissimmee-Gateway airport just outside Orlando, FL, Stallion 51 has long been noted as the nation’s premiere provider of transition training in the famous WWII-era fighter, the North American P-51 Mustang. A unique facility, Stallion 51’s expert staff teach owners and pilots of these historic war machines to operate them safely and efficiently in the modern age. Since Stallion 51 came into being they have attended the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, bringing their stable of Mustangs to the Warbird Flight line with Mr. Mustang himself, Lee Lauderback flying his signature Solo Mustang Demo routine in the air show. This year, Stallion 51 is celebrating their 30th Anniversary, and they have invited their many Mustang friends to SUN ‘n FUN to help celebrate and commemorate the occasion. 

On Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 Stallion 51’s invited guests will arrive impressive formation for what is promising to be the largest assembly of P-51 Mustangs in over a decade.

“It’s been over a decade since the world has seen this many P-51 Mustangs in one place at one time,” said Greg Gibson, Air Operations Director for SUN ‘n FUN. “We have the honor of not only hosting them, but helping our friends at Stallion 51 celebrate their 30th anniversary.”

Not since the famous Gathering of Mustangs and Legends in 2007 in Dayton, Ohio has there been such a showing of the famous Warbird, and with over 7 acres of pristine apron space at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport appropriately named “The Warbird Ramp”, the week-long SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is the perfect venue for bringing this elite group together. Over 30 are expected, and the excitement over the arrival is building.

Gibson’s enthusiasm for the occasion is readily evident. “It’s a historic event, celebrating one of the most significant aircraft in history. To see them all together is overwhelming, but we have a real treat on Thursday for our SUN ‘n FUN guests: all of them will fly in the airshow at once!”
The flight demonstration will take place on Thursday, April 6th during the daily airshow, which begins around 2PM. This will coincide with the first appearance of the US Navy Blue Angels, scheduled to fly later that same day.

In 1987, Stallion 51 Corp. established itself as a unique aviation business that specializes in rare expensive vintage aircraft built on the dream and passion of the Lauderback brothers. Lee, Peter, Richard and John are the cornerstone of the Mustang world; restoring, operating and marketing the rarest of the breed. Thousands of people have shared the cockpit with founder and president, Lee Lauderback and his crew through the years, learning about the magic of the Merlin and the mystique behind the Mustang. At SUN ‘n FUN 2017, visitors will get to see the results of their passion as the thunder of Mustangs roar overhead in a spectacular display not to be missed.

For more information on this event, please contact Greg Gibson at or call him at 863-644-2431. For more information on attending SUN ‘n FUN, please visit For more information on Stallion 51, visit

Photo credit to Stallion 51 -

Photo credit to Tony Granat Photography

Monday, February 13, 2017

Question about tail-wheel aircraft with wrinkles!

The question from a reader customer was - "I'm looking at a tail wheel aircraft that has wrinkles or dents around where main landing gear legs go into the fuselage. There is nothing in the logbooks about repairs, has this aircraft been wrecked?"

My thoughts are that wrinkles do not mean wrecked. But they do typically indicate previous damage or stress. I'd guess the aircraft has had a few hard landings or even a few ground loops. Make sure the mechanic looks for a Form 337, Major Alteration and Repair in the aircraft records. You can also order (through the FAA or other search companies) a copy of the FAA 337 Forms for a specific “N” number  aircraft.  This report will show you any Form 337’s that have been filed with the FAA on that particular aircraft.  If that doesn't show any damage all you have is visual information.

Whatever the result, the mechanic should inspect the gear attach points for un-repaired damage.   Landing gear on any aircraft gets a lot of stress.   Custom built aircraft are notorious for landing gear damage, along with training aircraft.  It doesn’t matter if it is a conventional gear (tail wheel) aircraft or a tri-gear aircraft.  New pilots have a tendency to make hard landings and newly completed custom aircraft take a while to become accustom to.   Don’t be surprised, just make sure the aircraft is inspected carefully.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

2017 Seabird Splash-In and Sun N Fun.

SUN 'n FUN Fly-In, Inc.
Jackie Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Office 863-904-4002

2017 Seabird Splash-In

(February 2, 2017 Lakeland, FL) Mark your calendars for the 2017 Seabird Splash-In set for April 1st and 2nd, 2017 at Tavares Seaplane Base in Tavares, FL, airport identifier: FA1.
The weekend will include contests on the water and transit to the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus for the 43rd Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly- In & Expo on Monday, April 3rd. 100 LL Fuel will be available on the base and facilities will include mooring, docking and ramp access.

While SUN ‘n FUN continues to look for a suitable location for a Splash-In near Lakeland, Seabird Co-Chairmen Geoff Nye and Bob Highley met with the management of Tavares Seaplane Base and determined that a Splash-In at Tavares was not only feasible, but a great location for Seabirds on their way to SUN ‘n FUN this spring. Tavares, known as Americas First Seaplane City has all the facilities for seaplane activities, as well as walk-to hotels and restaurants. Tavares is experienced in conducting seaplane splash-in events and is excited to host the participation of SUN ‘n FUN Seabirds.

More information will be available on SUN ‘n FUN’s website, as it becomes available.
For more information on the Splash-in, please contact Geoff Nye, Seabirds Co-Chair at 215-913-4768 or email him at

SUN ‘n FUN is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, located on the grounds of the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. Proceeds from all year-round events are returned to aviation-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs, activities and facilities, and used to support on-going scholarship funding.