Friday, April 28, 2017

Sporty's Aircraft Insurance - Our Positive Experience

I always see people discussing their aircraft insurance online. Like most folks, they are typically looking for better treatment from their agent or better prices.   Everyone else is either a new or potential aircraft owner looking for suggestions as to whom they should contact for aviation insurance.

Ginger and I have dealt with several agencies through the years. Some have been good and one bordered on criminal. Yet, they all operated in pretty much the same manner.  Let's face it, the aviation insurance business is thirty years behind everything else the same way aviation itself is. Status quo is the modus operandi.  Because of this, we've learned to accept sub-standard business practices when it comes to the subject.

It's time that changes. 

Always one to try something new, Ginger recently gave the new Sporty's Insurance Center a try. I remember the moment clearly. Things were quiet in the house, then I heard her walking briskly through the living room towards me.  Something was up and I hoped it was good.

Strutting into the room as if she'd won a gold medal, she proudly stated, "I just saved us hundreds of dollars by switching to Sporty's."  Additionally, as Ginger continued her upbeat report on the experience, she told me how the Sporty's service offered a more modern method of getting a quote online. That was great news.  It also made her day.

Maybe times are changing?

If you want to see for yourself, go to Sporty's Insurance Center and give their quick quote service a shot.  You may be surprised.  Ginger certainly was, and that isn't easy.

The Cure for Boeing Butt

If you’ve ever flown a Boeing you know the problem. It’s called “Boeing Butt.” In all fairness, I’m fairly sure the cockpit “cushions” in all airliners are made from the same vertabrea crushing material. Created by combining the harshest qualities of crushed rock and a wood rasp, the seats are rumored to have spawned the notion of ripping someone a new a__hole.

Being a pilot, I can get over Boeing building planes without hot mics, that many of their seats lack a critical neck saving safety device required in cars for decades (head rests), and the apparent company directive to build ear crushing noise into the last workplace not covered by OSHA. But (no pun intended), I cannot accept their inability to build an acceptable seat.

Pilots lug around a lot of crap. In addition to the stress at home, the number of physical items which go with them on every trip can be staggering. Some even refer to their roll on bag as a mobile home. Look around the airport and you’ll see what I’m discussing. It is not uncommon to see an aircrew member packing three or more bags. For this reason, the thought of adding another item to the list can induce cringes similar to those created by sitting in one of Boeing's cockpit seats.

Amazingly though, the seats are so bad, many pilots choose to add another item to their non-descript, two wheeled, circus wagon. What is it? The luxury of choice is a seat cushion.

The most common example is a simple air inflated camping cushion sold by REI. These things suck. At no point do they work well. Not enough air and you have no cushion – too much air and you are sitting on a beach ball. And yet, thanks to its deflated compactness, pilots carry them out of desperation; each of them getting high on the placebo effect.

What do I carry? For the longest time it was nothing. Every flight was torture. Then a friend sent me an Oregon Aero Softseat Portable Cushion.

Out of the box, my first thought was that it was big. Again, when something is a pain to carry, the idea of keeping track of it will cause a pilot to leave it at home. Yet, I had to try it.

The first issue was figuring out a way to carry it carefree. It would be nice if it had the clips that would allow it to attach to many roll on bags, but it doesn’t.  Another solution was needed.

When I figured it out, it made great sense and was less hassle than carrying a third bag.  The photo at the top is how it looks. Basically, the hook strap goes through the carry handle of the cushion’s carry bag(an accessory), then onto the second bag you typically drag around. This locks it in place. Quite easy.

Warning: The first time you bring this cushion to work it will feel like you are carrying a small badger or a lava lamp. It really stands out as something not typically seen in the crew area. Well, after almost two decades in the cockpit, I guess the lava lamp isn’t really that odd. But, nobody carries small size badgers. Therefore, don’t be surprised if someone asks you what it is. And don’t be surprised if you hesitate to answer. Nobody wants to be the pansy.

When you place the Oregon Aero magic butt cradle in the seat that changes. It actually fits onto the Boeing “cushion” as if it were made to spec. I was amazed. It gave me hope. Then I sat on it.

Strange, is the only way I can describe the experience of comfort while staring at the Boeing brown panel. Up to that point, I could have argued it was that color that made my ass hurt. After trying out the Softseat, I knew it was the seat all along.

If you’re a pilot, and you know the struggle, I encourage you to try the Softseat. It is a great addition to every cockpit. You’ll arrive less fatigued, say goodbye to “Boeing Bed Sores,” and wonder why you waited so long.

Looking down on the seat with the Softseat addition.
Fits perfectly and provides improved lumbar support.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes

1967 Hafe CH-1
What is the best airplane page on Facebook?  The answer, for me, is easy.  It's "Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes."

The page currently does not have a huge following, and that's good.  Once a group has thousands of followers things get "hinky." People start wanting to post unrelated items, next come the screenshots from flight simulators, and finally, advertisements for making money at home make an appearance.  Soon after that the grim reaper arrives and folks scurry. Therefore, I hope the page stays stingy with its acceptance of members.

Look at the craftsmanship on this bird.

As it stands, many of aviation's greatest unknown enthusiasts randomly show up to post images of long forgotten homebuilts and reproductions. These folks reveal unique experimentals to younger members who never realized how amazing the homebuilding movement actually was in its early years. The evidence of America's greatest innovators, and the spirit of the country, are crafted into each and every plane on display. Some of the aircraft pictured are of groundbreaking designs, while others reveal evidence of broken dreams. Whatever the case may be, my God, aviation was so alive back then.

Unfortunately, there is an underlying message to the page that few stop to mention.  Perhaps the truth is too painful for the enthusiasts to face.  It took millions of years to etch dinosaurs in stone and only five or six decades to do the same with airplanes.

If you are interested in archeology, but don't like to get dirty, all you need to do is visit the Vintage Experimental & Reproduction Aeroplanes page on facebook. It's a fossil record you uncover with a keyboard - if you can get in.

The Swannee Special

NOTE:  I firmly believe there should be an entire wing, no, and entire building, at the Smithsonian, dedicated to homebuilding and experimentals.  There is no other realm of aviation more diverse and representative of the American spirit, and aviation itself.