What are the Odds?

By Ed Downs

April 8, 1970 was a memorable day for this writer. A lot was going on. Having been the member of a team that was participating in bringing the world’s first wide-body airliner into airline service, my employer suddenly changed my assignment. I was to leave my Midwest home, move to California (my home state), and take on the next project, the Lockheed L-1011. Having already found temporary residence in California, the next task was a permanent move. Of course, first on my list was to fly my plane out to my new home along with critical flight records that I would need for the new assignment. In addition to this flurry of activity, I was following the expected launch of Apollo 13. As a dedicated “space nut,” the goal was to be back in California, with my plane, planted in front of the TV, cheering on our next space venture. Yep, those were fun times!

The plan was simple. I would temporarily stay with a friend in Kansas City, drive my buddy’s car (a huge late ‘60s Buick) to the airport where my plane was stored, load important papers (personal flight records, aircraft logbooks, and maintenance records), plus a small amount of luggage into the plane, and give my bird a good check to make sure it was ready for the long trip to my new home. With any luck, I would be back in California in time to watch the entire moon landing planned for Apollo 13. Cool! But plans are just that, plans. The weather was not cooperating, and it had become apparent that the greatly anticipated ferry flight would have to wait. So, everything went back into the car. I headed back to Kansas City to catch an airline to California, planning to pick up my plane later. At least I would be able to watch Apollo 13 land on the Moon.  With my mind engaged in endless planning, the drive to my buddy’s place on a state highway was routine, until I noticed flashing lights and construction workers up ahead.  Traffic had been flagged to a stop, as electric power lines were being dragged across the highway, to be raised up to towers on either side of the road. Maybe a 10-minute delay, no big deal. But seconds later, my life changed.

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Your Prop is Probably Out of Balance – Here’s Why You Should Care

By Matthew Dock

Based on prop balancing data collected by RPX Technologies over past years, there’s a pretty good chance that the propeller is out-of-balance on the airplane you fly, which causes vibration. Before balancing, 85 percent of propellers start with a vibration greater than 0.1 Inches Per Second (IPS) and 70 percent of props start at a magnitude greater than 0.2 IPS! While these figures might seem low, they indicate the presence of vibration, and as this article will share, vibration has negative consequences. 

Data reveals that about four out of five general aviation aircraft are flying with out-of-balance propellers.  Why should you care, as long as the plane still flies? There’s a very good reason to care: prop imbalance produces vibration, and vibrations can damage the engine, instruments or airframe, in addition to causing pilot and passenger discomfort.

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