AVweb's John Deakin was recently invited to join a small group of
CAF pilots who regularly fly the world's only remaining flyable B-29 "Superfortress."
Deak talks about what it's like to fly (and taxi) this awesome aircraft (he
claims it gives him goosebumps), reviews some of its quirkier systems, and
serves up an assortment of colorful Superfort experiences.
Tetraethyl lead has been gone from automobile gasoline for two decades,
and it's only a matter of time before leaded avgas goes away as well.
Despite a huge amount of industry research, nobody yet has a suitable
replacement fuel, and nobody's yet quite sure what will happen to today's
piston-powered fleet when the supply of 100LL dries up. AVweb's John
Deakin dispels a bunch of myths about TEL, explains what it does and why
it's so indispensable in high-performance recips, and talks about one
solution to the coming unleaded-avgas crisis that actually works.
Every primary student is taught that power controls altitude and pitch
controls airspeed ... or was that power controls airspeed and pitch controls
altitude? Truth is that pilots have been arguing about this since Orville
and Wilbur debated the question over a couple of beers at Kitty Hawk. AVweb's
John Deakin (who claims to have been there at the time) weighs in on this
issue by offering some real-world scenarios and taking a look at how modern
There's a lot more to flying a Standard Instrument Approach Procedure (SIAP)
than meets the eye. AVweb's John Deakin discusses what goes into the
design of an SIAP and how to shoot an approach legally and safety -- and
tosses in some tricks, some gotchas, and some interesting case studies.
John Deakin’s last column about the normal-procedures checklist he
developed for the CAF’s C-131 (Convair 340) produced such an enthusiastic
response -- and so many good suggestions -- that John decided to devote this
month's column to the plane’s emergency checklist. If you’ve ever
wondered about what goes on in a complex radial-engine transport aircraft
cockpit when the kimshee hits the fan, wonder no longer.
For a transport-sized warbird with a host of complex and oddball systems,
creating a good checklist is a daunting task -- one that AVweb's
resident pelican has been spending a lot of time on lately. John Deakin
offers a guided tour of his new C-131 checklist, and explains some of the
thinking and human-factors considerations that went into it.
AVweb's John Deakin devotes this month's column (and next) to his
favorite charity, hobby and passion: the just-renamed Commemorative Air
Force. Deak tells of the organization's need for pilots, mechanics and
volunteers, and discusses one of CAF's newest acquisitions, a beautifully
restored C-131 (military version of the Convair 340 airliner).
Nowadays, starting a new airline requires tens of millions of dollars in
capital and nearly that many pages of FAA paperwork. But back in the 1950s,
all it took was a $10,000 WWII-surplus transport, a few hungry time-building
pilots, and a lot of chutzpah. AVweb's John Deakin was just starting
his aviation career back then, and he tells a first-person tale of such a
venture that actually got off the ground, albeit briefly.
We all remember where we were on September 11 as terrorists attacked the
World Trade Center in New York. AVweb's John Deakin was in an FBO in
Amsterdam when he saw the second impact on a TV set tuned to CNN. In this
month's column, Deak offers his unique perspective on that awful day as both
a pilot and an American.
AVweb's John Deakin has logged PIC time in everything from Beech
V35s to Boeing 747s and Grumman Bearcats to Gulfstream IVs. But the
Pelican's favorite airplane of all time is the Curtiss-Wright C-46
"Commando" -- a WWII-vintage twin-radial-engined taildragger that
looks a lot like a DC-3 on steroids, but in truth is a different beast
altogether. John's column this month discusses the idiosyncrasies of this
unique airplane and his memories of flying it, first 40 years ago in
Southeast Asia and more recently on the airshow circuit. Lots of lovely
Ever notice that whenever a piston aircraft engine has low compression or
some other cylinder problem, chances are the mechanic will blame it on
"running too lean"? Regular readers of John Deakin's AVweb
columns know better, of course: Lean-of-peak operation is cooler, cleaner,
and kinder to the engine. If you wonder why most A&Ps are so ill
informed about modern mixture management, just take a look at what the FAA
requires them to be taught in AMT school!
AVweb's John Deakin just received his Gulfstream IV type rating
after three weeks of intensive ground school and sim training at Simuflite
in Dallas. He'd long admired the G-IV and had looked forward to the
training. Much to his shock, it turned out to be a miserable and frustrating
experience -- one that left him feeling far less than well-trained. John
details what happened, and pulls no punches in assigning blame.
During WWII, the British RAF and the U.S. Eighth Air Force used the
Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" to pound the heck out of the
Germans. Ernest K. Gann flew a freighter version (the C-87) during the war,
and hated it. The plane even saw some service as a corporate executive
transport back when burning 200 GPH to go 200 knots was still affordable.
Recently, AVweb's resident warbird maven John Deakin had an
opportunity to check out in the Confederate Air Force's B-24, "Diamond
'Lil," and reports that the aircraft is both quirky and fun.
We've all been taught about detonation in piston aircraft engines. It's
what occurs when combustion pressure and temperature get so high that the
fuel/air mixture to explodes violently instead of burning smoothly, and it
can destroy an engine in a matter of seconds. Right? Well, not exactly. AVweb's
John Deakin reviews the latest research, and demonstrates that detonation
occurs in various degrees -- much like icing and turbulence -- with the
milder forms not being particularly harmful. Heavy detonation is definitely
destructive, and the Pelican offers some concrete data on how to avoid it.
Pelican's Perch fans know that AVweb's John Deakin is an outspoken
proponent of operating piston aircraft engines on the lean side of peak EGT.
Recently, Textron-Lycoming published a treatise about why they disapprove of
this procedure. Not surprisingly, Deakin devotes this month's column to
dissecting the Lycoming document and ripping it to shreds. (TCM operators
will find this interesting, too.)
Coming from the mouth of your CFI, those words (or a close variant) let
you know that the instructor wants you to execute a go-around. According to AVweb's
John Deakin, this is a maneuver that is often botched by airline captains
and light plane pilots alike -- not because it's difficult, but because we
don't practice it enough and are sometimes not mentally ready for it. Deak
offers a thoughtful approach to go-arounds and missed approaches that works
in anything from a J-3 to a 747.
We 're talking of course, about the North American T-28
"Trojan." (Why, what were you thinking?) You'll recall that
last month, John Deakin described his checkout in the Grumman F8F
"Bearcat." This time, AVweb's resident warbird maven
invites you along as he qualifies for his FAA Letter of Authorization in the
T-28. Although the Trojan has only about half the horsepower of the Bearcat,
it's a considerably more complex airplane. Why, even learning to operate the
(hydraulically-actuated) canopy requires a groundschool session. Deak takes
you through the highlights of his 14 ground and ten flight sessions with
T-28 owner Mark Matye.
Regular readers know that AVweb's John Deakin is active in the
warbird community ... a master at flying big radial-engine transports like
the Lockheed Constellation and C-46 Commando. Recently, however, John had
the opportunity to fly a very different breed of warbird: the Grumman F8F
Bearcat. Deak explains that when you take an 8,000-pound airframe and add a
2,200-hp radial engine, what you get is an elevated pulse rate.
What's it like to fly a 25-ton WWII-era round-engined twin to, from and in
the Confederate Air Force's big annual warbird airshow? It's a tough job,
but somebody's got to do it. AVweb's John Deakin was elected to
shepherd one of CAF's two flying C-46 "Commando" transports to the
Midland show this year. Unseasonable weather and mechanical problems made
the task both challenging and memorable, as John details in his latest
Ever gotten steamed at ATC for delaying you, or angry at another pilot who
cut you off in the pattern, or hosed at an FBO who forgot to fuel your
airplane when you needed to make a quick turn? AVweb's John Deakin
points out that you can't be "pilot in command" of an aircraft
unless you can first control your own emotions, and that overtly angry
behavior usually makes you come off looking like a jerk. Deak offers some
thoughts on how to stay cool and act professional.
AVweb's John Deakin concludes his six-part powerplant management
series with a discussion of the procedures he uses during descent, approach
(including missed-approach), landing, and shutdown. In the process, he
debunks some Old Wives' Tales about "shock cooling" and
In his fifth column of this series, AVweb's John Deakin continues
his detailed discussion of powerplant management technique. This installment
is totally devoted to the all-important cruise phase of flight, and includes
both theory and hard numbers from the JPI data-logging engine monitor in
John's turbonormalized IO-550-powered V-35A Bonanza. (Descents, approaches,
landings, and shutdowns next month.)
In his fourth column of this series, AVweb's John Deakin invites
you along in the right seat of his turbonormalized IO-550-powered V35B
Bonanza, explaining each step of his powerplant management technique from
engine start to taxi, runup, takeoff and climb. (The Pelican promises to
cover cruise, descent, landing and shutdown next time.) To help illustrate
why he does what he does, John presents detailed CHT and EGT data on some
actual flights, taken from the Bonanza's JPI data-logging digital engine
monitor, and explains exactly what each squiggle on the graph means.
In his third column about turbocharged piston engines, AVweb's John
Deakin delves into some of the little-understood subtleties of managing
these powerplants. Among other things, the Pelican explains how changing the
MP and RPM affects mixture, how changing mixture affects horsepower and
combustion timing, and why proper combustion timing is so darn important to
the health and efficiency of your engine.
In this second in a series of columns on turbocharged piston engines, AVweb's
John Deakin offers a detailed walk-through of a typical turbo system -- from
intercooler to wastegate and everything in between. He then explains how the
various system components function during each phase of flight from engine
start through runup, takeoff, climb, cruise, and shutdown.
By popular demand, AVweb's John Deakin kicks off a series of
columns about the care and feeding of turbocharged piston aircraft engines.
This month's article reviews the convoluted history of pumped-up engines
from the earliest gear-driven supercharged radials to the latest
turbocharged flat engines found in today's GA fleet.
There's not a syllable in the FARs about 45-degree traffic pattern
entries. Nor does the AIM require them. There exists, however, a
small-but-vocal cadre of pilots -- and even some FAA inspectors -- who
consider any other type of pattern entry (straight-in, crosswind, etc.) to
be a felony. These "traffic pattern nazis" are sometimes heard
chewing out fellow pilots on CTAF for their heinous transgressions. Rubbish,
says AVweb's John Deakin, who explains that sometimes the 45-degree
entry is best and sometimes it isn't. Deakin explains his approach to flying
traffic patterns at non-towered airports, which involves hard-to-legislate
concepts like common sense and courtesy.
Not quite three years ago, the FAA implemented a massive rewrite of the
FARs that govern certification of pilots and instructors. The result was a
great deal of confusion, a bunch of band-aid fixes, and issuance of an
interpretive FAQ that has now grown to three times the size of Part 61
itself! Well, at least the dust is now settling, right? Wrong, says AVweb's
John Deakin, who recently learned that those hard-working folks at 800 Indy
are now putting the finishing touches on yet another NPRM that would make a
whole new round of changes to these regs. Deakin details the proposed
tweaks, and lets us know precisely what he thinks of them.
Crop dusters call it "bad air." The weather guessers call it
"wind shear." But whatever you call it, abrupt changes in wind
velocity and/or direction have been responsible for a bunch of jet transport
crashes, and a bunch more non-crashes that must have caused the cockpit crew
to call for a change of underwear. John Deakin relates some personal wind
shear experiences, dissects some wind shear-related jet crashes, and sheds
light on the phenomenon by going back to basics.
The recent crash of Alaska Flight 261 near Los Angeles triggered a torrent
of TV and newspaper reports that displayed profound ignorance of pitch
control systems -- not only among reporters (where it might be expected) but
also in the pilot community. After taking a few potshots at the media, AVweb's
John Deakin describes the three basic types of pitch control systems plus a
bunch of variations, and talks about what can go wrong and how pilots should
There are two kinds of pilots: those who sheepishly admit to having done
some incredibly dumb thing while flying, and those who are liars. AVweb's
John Deakin, who is decidedly in the first category, recounts the closest he
ever came to killing himself in an airplane (during a ferry flight in Peru
nearly 40 years ago), and examines some of the lessons he learned the hard
way from that experience.
Deakin's prior column criticizing the use of VNAV during non-precision
approaches provoked a torrent of dissenting reader responses, much of it
from Airbus pilots and other glass-cockpit operators. Never one to take this
sort of thing lying down, AVweb's resident iconoclast fires back at
these pinball wizards and flying videogame players, then discusses the best
way for real pilots to fly various kinds of approaches (LOC,
straight-in VOR/NDB, offset VOR/NDB) in various kinds of airplanes (glass
cockpit, steam gauge, flib).
Flying a non-precision approach has traditionally been a "Dive and
Drive" affair in which the pilot descends rapidly to the MDA or
step-down altitude and then levels off. Recently, however, pilots of
aircraft equipped with glass cockpit FMS systems or VNAV-capable GPS
receivers have been encouraged to fly such approaches using a constant
descent path. There's even a buzzword for this: CANPA (constant-angle
non-precision approach), and these calculated pseudo-glideslopes are now
starting to show up on Jeppesen approach plates. AVweb's John Deakin
thinks this is a bad idea, one that will result in a lot more missed
approaches and perhaps even some accidents. Deakin explains why, and makes a
compelling case for flying non-precision approaches the traditional,
old-fashioned way that God and Cap'n Jepp intended.
AVweb's John Deakin takes a whimsical look at his recent compulsory
retirement after 25 years in the left seat of a Boeing 747. But, his whimsy
turns to anger as he looks at the origin of the unfair, arbitrary, and
illogical rule that has clipped the wings of thousands of fine young
60-year-old airline pilots at the peak of their game. Deakin has reserved a
special place in hell for the first FAA Administrator who enacted the
mandatory retirement age, and offers a couple of suggestions that might help
get rid of this insane rule. If you're a Deakin fan (and who isn't?), this
is one of his best.
What's the best technique for taking off from a short or soft field?
According to John Deakin, there's the FAA way (as documented in the POH and
the FAA's Flight Training Handbook), and then there's the right way. The
problem with the FAA way, says Deakin, is that it's predicated on
certification requirements which are totally unrealistic. As usual, AVweb's
resident pelican shreds the conventional wisdom, then explains how it's
In aviation, as in life, the grass is always greener on the other side of
the fence. Want proof? While most pilots would gladly give up a major body
part for a single flight in the left seat of a Boeing 747, AVweb's
John Deakin -- for whom flying the "seven four" is (yawn) just
another day at the office -- has always lusted in his heart for the chance
to fly the king of recips and prince of props: the Lockheed Constellation.
Recently, Deak had the chance to do precisely that -- as PIC, no less -- and
devotes his entire column to bragging shamelessly about it.
The crash of a Beech T-34A in simulated air combat at Sky Warriors near
Atlanta triggered an investigation involving the NTSB, the FAA, and Raytheon
Aircraft Company. AVweb's resident pelican, John Deakin -- who is
current in T-34s himself -- has been looking closely at this investigation,
and believes that it is taking a wrong and dangerous direction that could
wind up putting a lot of perfectly good airplanes on the ground ... not just
T-34s, but also Aerobatic Bonanzas, early-model Bonanzas that use the same
wing spar design as the T-34, and might ultimately have implications for all
Bonanzas and perhaps even other models as well. John explains why he thinks
the NTSB may be on the wrong track in looking for a probable cause, and why
other participants in the investigation may have ulterior motives.
In recent columns, John Deakin has explained all you need to know -- and
more than some of you wanted to know -- about the three engine controls:
throttle (MP), prop (RPM), and mixture. Now, AVweb's resident pelican
puts all that theory into practical perspective by taking you through each
phase of a flight -- start, taxi, runup, takeoff, climb, cruise, descent and
landing -- and offering specific tips for getting the most from your piston
If you fly recips, what leaning procedure do you use? Chances are that
almost everything your CFI told you about using the red knob -- and most of
what you've read and heard since then -- is just plain hogwash! We suggest
you forget everything you thought you knew about the subject and let AVweb's
John Deakin show you how to optimize engine efficiency and longevity through
enlightened mixture management.
AVweb columnist John Deakin -- whose commits his day job in the
left front seat of a Boeing 747 -- offers a riotous insider's look at the
professional pilot pecking order, and explains why he'd much rather be
called "John" than "Captain." If you enjoy Deakin's
brand of wry, this one is sure to have you ROF,L.
In this month's column AVweb's John Deakin moves from the black
knobs (MP) to the blue ones (RPM). He starts with a history lesson about how
we got from windmills to fixed-pitch propellers, adjustable and controllable
ones, and ultimately to constant-speed props. John then explains how they
work, why they work the way they do, and how you can tell if they're working
the way they're supposed to. He even answers that age-old conundrum: how
many times should you cycle the prop at runup?
If you fly behind a piston engine with a controllable-pitch propeller, the
manifold pressure gauge plays an important part in the power settings you
use. Few pilots, however, have any real understanding of what the instrument
actually measures or what its readings truly signify. Pelican to the rescue!
Read this column by AVweb's John Deakin and you'll be able to teach
your CFI and A&P a thing or three about MP.
For over 30 years, AVweb's John Deakin has been flying big iron for
Japan Airlines. But in a previous lifetime (mid-60s), John flew for Air
America in Southeast Asia. (Yes, THAT Air America.) As you might
imagine, he's got a zillion fabulous and funny flying stories from those
days. This true tale of livestock running amok aboard a C-46 is one of
John's most entertaining. Besides, aren't you just dying to see what Deakin
looked like in 1965?
Having problems finding Aviator's Breathing Oxygen to refill your bottle?
Upset about the rip-off prices some FBOs charge for an O2 fill? Don't put up
with it, says AVweb's John Deakin, who explains why it's perfectly
safe -- and perfectly legal -- to use cheap welder's oxygen, and tells you
exactly what you need to know to buy it in bulk and do your own refills.
The last time you were at an airshow, did you wonder what it takes to keep
all those warbirds up and running? Ever wanted to get "up close and
personal" with the people and the machines themselves? So have we. In
response, AVweb's John Deakin takes readers on a mini-tour of what a
"warbird" is, some of the considerations in getting involved with
a warbird group and even offers some suggestions on whom to contact to learn
more. Be sure to bring your ear plugs -- and your wallet!
Never one to let a good idea, or safer method of flying, wither away for
lack of action or misunderstanding, AVweb's John Deakin takes on the
subject of flying IFR with your GPS handheld. "Not legal," you
say? "Not so," says John. Flying IFR with your handheld GPS is not
only legal, it's a godsend he says, and explains just how to get the most
out of that handful of navigation wizardry.
But, isn't a stabilized approach a "good thing"? AVweb's
John Deakin points out that a necessity in the jet transport world is a
detriment to those of us flying piston-engined props. Even the FAA
distinguishes between the two, though many CFIs and others are too busy
trying to imitate the big boys to realize the danger they place themselves
in by doing so. A stabilized approach in our GA aircraft is a far different
animal than that flown by an airline captain in his jet and you'd best
recognize the difference before it bites.
Anyone who likes checkrides has to be nuts, says AVweb's John
Deakin. We don't expect to find many who disagree. As an FAA Designated
Examiner who must also take checkrides himself, John gives pointers from
both sides of the cockpit. Join John as he wends his way through one of his
C-46 checkrides, explaining the ins and outs, and offering some relatively
unknown, but important information that could make your next checkride a lot
AVweb's John Deakin is asking you to abuse your engine, or so it
might seem to many until he sweeps a whole slew of old wives' tales (OWTs)
off the cliff. Using digital technology for data collection and simple
graphs, John supports his unorthodox engine operating suggestions with data
that proves the old ways may actually be worse for your engine. Wrong may
well be right! If you've been taught that you must always reduce MP before
reducing RPM, you're going to be forced to rethink that notion. If you think
you're helping your engine live longer by reducing MP to 25 inches after
take-off, boy are you going to be amazed at how badly you've been abusing
your engine. And, that's only for starters.
AVweb's John Deakin takes aim at yet another OWT (Old Wive's Tale).
While running a fuel tank dry in your recip powered plane may serve to
increase your heart rate, John explains why it's not such a bad thing at
all, and it is probably a really good idea for most of us. In fact, John
explains why it's one of the first things you ought to do with a new plane
and how it could save your life someday.
AVweb's John Deakin writes his most shocking column yet. He's
saying good things about the FAA! Well, not the whole FAA, but still, it's
quite a shock to hear anyone, let alone John, compliment even a small part
of the FAA. Even he admits it does "feel very strange." What's he
saying that's so nice? Well, it has to do with flying some warbirds, but for
the rest of the story you'll have to read John's column. Just make sure
you're sitting down first.
Don't you just love it when a FSDO starts making up its own rules,
contrary to the FARs? AVweb columnist John Deakin doesn't much like
it at all and calls the FAA down to the chief pilot's office for a rug
dance. Seems there's a FSDO out there busting IFR checkrides for not timing
a full ILS. However, there's nothing in the PTS that says you should, and AVweb's
resident Pelican doesn't think much of the idea in any case.
It ain't easy being contrary, but AVweb's John Deakin makes the
effort worthwhile. Engine failure in a piston twin is no time to be messing
with complicated procedures that some seem to favor. John lays out his
straightforward ideas on how to react to this critical emergency--and
explains why in detail. There's more to it than just "identify, verify,
feather" or "dead foot, dead engine." Once again, the real
world requirements that could save your life may not be well served by some
of "the old ways."
John Deakin tears apart his own impressive flying bio (32,000 hours, 747
captain, designated pilot examiner, yadda yadda yadda) to make the point
that tens of thousands of hours, gray hair, advanced ratings and the rest
don't necessarily mean a pilot is worth listening to. He encourages pilots
to think about the advice they are given -- is it sage advice that could
save you from a lot of trouble some day, or just a bunch of nonsense from
the local ABM (airport big mouth)? Along the way, Deakin skewers a few OWT’s
(old wives' tales)...flying myths that just never seem to die.
John Deakin's first Pelican's Perch column, Throw
Away That Stupid Checklist, generated considerable controversy.
(There's nothing wrong with that, it's why we asked John to write: to make
us all think about what we are doing.) Unfortunately, a good deal of that
controversy appears to stem from misunderstandings about what he wrote,
generating more heat than light on the subject. Others apparently agree with
John's points, but for some reason think he shouldn't say what he said. In
this column, John clarifies some of the points that appear to have been
misunderstood by some readers and he then goes on to expand upon the subject
of checklist use.
Say again? You heard correct, just toss it. "Heresy!" some will
cry, but AVweb columnist John Deakin -- who's not only a 32,000-hour
747 captain but also a Bonanza owner and FAA-designated pilot examiner --
explains why written checklists are neither necessary or appropriate to
single-pilot operations. Deakin offers a viable alternative that could save