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Owner's Corner

Lloyd Stephens, Aircraft Owner and Board Member WVFC
lgs@qnet. omc


Taking Good Care of Our Planes

WVFC is a flying club, not just an airplane rental agency.  As a club member you have an obligation to do your best to protect the club planes that you are flying.  This means not only flying safely, but caring for the planes as if they belonged to you (or better).  I think that you all know that, with one exception, all of the planes in the fleet are owned by individuals.  These individuals pay for the maintenance on the planes, the insurance, the tie downs, and the fuel and oil that you use during a flight.  Airplanes are not cheap, either to purchase or to maintain, whether they are new or old, and owners would rather not pay excessive maintenance or repair charges because club members aren’t being careful with the planes.  While most members are careful with the planes, it only takes one who isn’t careful to cause damage, and aircraft maintenance isn’t cheap.  The club tries hard to provide you with aircraft that are in good physical and mechanical shape.  If you want to fly planes that are in good condition, you need to help keep them that way.  That includes not only flying safely, but also cleaning up your trash in the plane, putting the cover back on, and securely tying down the plane after you fly it.

No one sets out to intentionally cause damage to a plane.  Mostly it is caused by members who are not aware that their actions can cause damage.  But when planes are damaged, owners can end up with big bills that makes plane ownership unattractive and then they may take their planes off of the flight line or, at least, raise rental prices.  Not just the owner, but a member who caused damage may also be charged for that.  Many members have no idea of the costs for repairing some of the damage inadvertently caused by not paying attention to being careful.  Replacing a tire that has been flat-spotted by heavy braking runs about $400, repainting a wing that has been scratched by pulling a flight case off of it runs about $1000, replacing the engine mount because of heavy braking resulting in repeated nose wheel shimmy more than $7000.

So here are some things that you might want to think about when you fly so that you can avoid causing inadvertent damage to the planes:

1. Please don’t put anything on the horizontal surfaces of the plane, with the exception of the black wing-walk.  This includes luggage, flight cases, headsets, and clothing items.

2. Please don’t put items on the glare shield.  This includes headsets, aircraft books, or anything else that could possibly scratch the windshield.

3. Please do not move the rudders on the Pipers back and forth during your pre-flight.  The sign NO PUSH is there because the rudder on the Pipers is attached to the nose wheel and repeated pushing, or pulling, will crack the thin skin of the rudder.  Re-skinning and painting the rudder runs about $4000. 

4. Please do not try to turn off on a midfield taxiway if you have landed long or are going too fast to do so without braking heavily, even if the tower says “please expedite.”  Heavy braking can lock up the tires, resulting in flat-spotting and nose wheel shimmy and that, as we have discussed, can result in expensive repairs.  Apply a little back pressure on the yoke to get some aerodynamic braking and let the plane roll-out.  It is much less expensive to continue to the end of the runway rather than flat-spotting a tire.  If you do manage to flat-spot a tire, please tell us so that we can change the tire and avoid a more serious problem.  And remember that checking the tires should be part of your pre-flight to ensure, not only that the tires are safe for flight, but that you don’t get charged for damage that you didn’t cause.

5. When you re-park the plane, try to park it so that the nose is at least a foot back of the line marking the edge of the taxiway.  There is no penalty for parking a little further away from the line, and it offers a little more protection from taxiing planes.

6. After your flight, please make sure that the plane is securely tied down and that the covers are put back on and the doors locked.  Winter is coming and the winds are going to be picking up.  A secure tie-down means more than just throwing the rope over itself, it means that the knot you use will not slip and will firmly hold the plane in place.  The WVFC “club knot” is the best to use.

Hopefully, you will keep these things in mind when you fly, and we can keep the fleet in good condition, while keeping maintenance costs down.

Thanks, and Happy Flying,