This is the story of owning and operating a 1993 Beech Bonanza A36 in the UK and some of its adventures and flights. I have owned this plane for nearly six years now.
The trials and tribulations of getting my Beech Bonanza A-36 back in the air are hopefully nearing an end now because the new cylinders have I understand arrived in the UK and are as of yesterday in customs and hopefully should be with us by the end of the week. Then we need to get them fitted and then get the export CofA from the FAA followed by a UK CofA. Once all this is done we should be able to go flying again.
Today I went to a meeting in the hired TB10. The meeting was at Farnborough and I had to go there for 9am so rather than set off too early today from Blackpool I went to stay with friends in Milton Keynes last night with meant a landing at Cranfield where I learned to fly (well at least where I took the lessons :)).
I have to say that while everything in aviation is expensive it still bothers me when I have to pay expensive landing fees. At Cranfield I had to pay £37 for the landing and one nights parking. Way too expensive in my opinion and it would have been more in the Bonanza I think and also more if I had used the ILS. I really think that airfields have got their pricing structures wrong and I will give an example of that that proves it in a minute.
After leaving Cranfield this morning I made the short hop to my pre-booked destination which was Farnborough. A very smart high class airfield and I was aware of the price for landing. In fact I had a meeting just around the corner from the airfield so despite the high price it was worth it as from landing I was at the meeting in 10 minutes. The sixty pounds had to pay was expensive but I was expecting it and paid up. The service there was very good needless to say but the TB10 looked way out of place lined up with all the massive biz jets.
Now for my example of where high landing fees doesnt pay. On my way back from Farnborough I decided I would pay a visit to Gloucester to visit the Transair shop and so I looked it up in my AFE guide and worked out that the landing fee would be £17 for a lowly TB10. I decided against going as £17 was too much just to look around a shop. I would have actually bought something as well so Transair lost out. I just dont get why these small airfields (I dont mean small in a derogatory way) dont just charge something like £8 which is a price I suspect that most people
would pay to drop in and see them. I just dont feel the same about £17. One time I went to Carlisle and they charged me £24 in a 182 and I also bought loads of fuel from them. I have never been back since. Today Gloucester lost my business because in my opinion they are greedy with the landing fees.
Back in Blackpool I saw my newly numbered A-36 Bonanza with its new identity. Oh please hurry up and get yourself fit to fly Mr G-Fozz because it is driving me mad seeing you sat there!
No news on the new cylinders. Its driving me mad seeing my Bonanza in bits in the hangar.
On Monday I need to go to a meeting at Farnborough so I rang the airfield today and found out I have to pay £60 plus VAT to land there. The nice lady suggested I went to Blackbushe as they were cheaper but the meeting is just outside the airport so I cant bear to go to an airfield more than 10 miles away and I suppose once I have paid my taxi fairs it wont be so much cheaper.
I have booked the TB10 again so I hope it will be kind to me again. I cant bear the fact that I have had two meetings come up that I needed to fly to and the Bonanza has been out of service for both of them. I bet once it is back in the air no more meetings will crop up like this!
I know this has nothing to do with owning and operating a Beech Bonanza but in a way it has.
Today I went to Turweston and back in the club TB10 which after a 1993 Beechcraft Bonanza A-36 is quite a culture shock. It did make me realise just how nice the Bonanza is and I think I had been taking it for granted. I promise Mr Bonanza I wont in the future. When I got back I sat in the Bonanza for 5 minutes just soaking up how beautifully laid out and constructed it is. I have no idea how it compares to flying lots of other types as I have only flown a few different planes. If I didn't have so many kids I would probably have bought a Cirrus anyway but if you get the chance just go flying in a post 1984 (nicer cockpit) Beech Bonanza A-36. For a light plane it seems they take a lot of beating. For Me the Bonanza is a thing of beauty. It stands tall and proud on the Apron. It is supremely practical with loads of room and back and the front and compares well against most other types for both looks and practicality I suspect. Its cockpit makes you feel like you are flying a really big plane too.
Sorry I got rambling there. If you can't fly a Bonanza then don't despair. Today I had one of the nicest days flying since I gained my PPL and it was in a TB10. Anyone who is lucky enough to gain a PPL should always appreciate just what a wonderful achievement it is and enjoy every minute of it. For me I am glad I have flown another type and despite its Frenchness it was good fun and took me safely to Turweston and back from my meeting and despite stopping for lunch and going a leisurely route back I was able to complete all this and get back home to the North of England before tea time. What a lucky people us pilots are.
Multiflight at Leeds called today to say that at least one of my cylinders was beyond repair and they would suggest that for the extra money I replace them all. The price of the repair option was £4500 but the price of new was £5500 so I have gone along with that. The parts have been ordered but they are going to take 10-14 days to come.
After that we have to get the FAA to inspect and issue a export CofA and then the CAA to inspect and issue a CofA. By that time the plane will have been out of the air for at least 8 weeks. Its driving me mad.
Today I have had a check ride in the clubs TB10 so I can go flying again. I need to go to Turweston tomorrow. I have to say it was a nice little plane apart from the frenchness and the lack of speed but at least I can go flying.
I regularly fly with a very competent high hours air traffic controller who always navigates and communicates while I aviate. A very satisfactory situation. Often I also fly on my own or with non-pilot passengers where the workload is higher so I am always glad to share the workload with another pilot.
I was going on a trip to Biggin Hill a few months ago when another pilot I knew but had never flown with offered to come along for the ride. I agreed and he with high time and an IR agreed to Navigate and Communicate and I would fly. Very agreeable.
The flight down was uneventful but during the return journey that is where this pleasure flight became less of a pleasure.
On leaving Biggin Hill we were to proceed to the north through City Airport zone and my navigator made the appropriate contact with City. Just before entering the zone which I noted from the Garmin 430's in my Bonanza I asked him have we been cleared to enter the zone as a double check to which he replied "yes". We entered the zone only to immediately be told by the controller that we had not yet been cleared to enter the zone but that we were now cleared.
A few minutes after passing the City zone still following my navigators directions we managed to enter the corner of the Stanstead zone. I noticed this on the 430's and asked to look at the map and made a sharp turn back to leave the zone but it was too late and we had obviously been noted at this point. Needless to say from that point on I got my own map from my flight bag and double checked every heading. The rest of the flight was uneventful.
Now I could have kept quiet about this but I was actually very disturbed about this and spoke to my air traffic controller friend about this when we got back and he advised me to call the atc at the two zones and apologise profusely. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't get around to calling them and forgot about the matter.
At the PFA rally on Sunday I picked up a CAA incidents booklet and this morning I was reading this and like all pilots no doubt I turned to the page to see if there were any incidents on the same type I fly and low and behold there was an incident concerning a Beech Bonanza A36 entering two zones without clearance in May. I called my girlfriend and asked if she could remember the date we had gone to Biggin but she couldnt so I rushed out to my car to get my flight bag for my logbook and on the door mat was a letter from the CAA.
My heart sank but then I remembered that I was in the process of transferring my plane to the G reg so it must be about that. I gingerly opened the letter and to my horror it was the CAA wanting details of a pilot making a flight in my BE36 Bonanza from Biggin on this day in May.
Now the rest of the story is that I called the CAA who were very understanding and pleasant and agreed to close the case on the basis that I had taken a very good lesson from this. I certainly have.
My lesson is that the Beech Bonanza I was flying was captained by me and I was repsonsible for its safe flight. In future I will not allow any other pilot to make navigational decisions without double checking them myself. I feel foolish for letting this happen as it was very easy to avoid that zone.
As it was these infrigments were not so serious as they were just on the edge of the zones but they could have been. I hope this helps other pilots to ensure that they are not putting themselves in trouble (or danger) by relaxing because others are making decisions for you. Use a second person on board to enhance your decision making process but don't let it remove your own caution as I did here.
The CAA have now written saying that my maintenance shop should put together a formal program for the ongoing maintenance and then they should be able to approve the plane. This is good news. Lets hope it comes to fruition but I am not counting my chickens just yet.
The Bonanza is still in the hangar in pieces and driving me mad as I want to fly but certainly it is not looking good for the next couple of weeks.
The cylinders have are now being removed to go off to Multiflight in Leeds who are going to carry out the overhaul.