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What Is the Insurable Value Of Your Aircraft?

by Darryl Abbey 1. December 2009 00:00
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Whether you are purchasing aircraft insurance for the first time or approaching your fifteenth insurance renewal, you face a decision about what is the most appropriate value for your Hull (Physical Damage) insurance. Too high a value and you increase the amount of premium unnecessarily. To low a value and you risk not getting what your aircraft is worth in the event of a total loss. But determining the right value isn't hard, it just takes a little time, research and thought.

There are, traditionally, three valuation types for insured property. Replacement Cost is where the insurance carrier pays to replace the destroyed property with a new like, kind and quality item(s) regardless of amount of age/use of the destroyed item. This is commonly available on home-owners insurance policies. Actual Cash Value is where depreciation is applied to the replacement value and the insurance carrier pays that amount for the destroyed property. This is commonly used in auto insurance policies. The third valuation method, and the one commonly used in aircraft hull insurance, is stated value or agreed value. This valuation method allows the owner of the aircraft to tell the insurance carrier what the aircraft is worth (within reason) and, in the event of a total loss, the insurance carrier agrees to pay that amount to the owner less any applicable deductible.

The stated value method works well for aircraft owners as it allows them to have some input into the value that is used and, therefore, to know exactly what they will get from the insurance carrier if their aircraft is destroyed or damaged beyond repair. However, this flexibility does give rise to the question "How do I determine what my aircraft is really worth?"

The first and most important thing to do is put your subjectivity aside. Most pilots love their aircraft and rightly so. It may be a new purchase with all the latest avionics (the envy of all your hangar-mates) or an old friend that has provided you with many years of faithful, reliable service. However, that does not mean that your aircraft is automatically worth twenty percent more than all other similar make and model ships just because it is yours. Take a step back from your personal feelings try to be as methodical as if you were performing a pre-flight check.

Step one in the process to a good valuation is to establish a baseline reference. There are some excellent industry resources available to you. Aircraft Blue Book and Vref are two highly respected sources that can be used to help establish an initial value. By looking across a wide volume of aircraft, these two entities provide an average value for most makes and models of aircraft and rotorcraft. You can also ask your insurance broker or underwriter as they typically have a good idea of what the current average value of a given make and model aircraft should be.

Now that you have a baseline, look at the variables with your own aircraft and be honest. Some items will reduce the value from the baseline average (like having an engine that is close to overhaul) and some will increase it (like the new avionics suite you just had installed). Certain items, like replacing a prop, may not have an appreciable impact on the value because, although they may be new parts, you cannot operate the aircraft without them. Once you have figured out the pluses and minuses of the variables which may affect your value, make adjustments to your baseline value accordingly.

Next, to test that value against the current market, take a look at some of the aircraft sales listings for similar aircraft to yours. There are lots of internet and print resources out there for you to use. By looking at comparable aircraft and the market pricing for those ships, you may be gain a more realistic idea of what your aircraft is worth at that particular time.

Once you have completed these steps, you should have a realistic and up to date valuation which you can use for your insurance policy. Supply this value to your broker and underwriter to make sure that they agree and are comfortable with this value. If the underwriter feels that the value is too high, he or she may ask for documentation of the equipment upgrades or other factors which have increased the value to that level. If he or she feels that the value is too low, they may not agree to use that value.

Underwriters are very wary of aircraft that dramatically over or under insured. If an aircraft is significantly over-insured (e.g. a $300,000 insured value on an aircraft that is really only worth $200,000), there is, potentially, a financial incentive for the Insured to have a total loss. This is called a moral hazard and goes against one of the fundamental principals of insurance: to make the insured whole after a loss, not to make a profit for the insured.

If an aircraft is dramatically under-insured, the owner faces potential financial loss. For example, let's say an aircraft is actually worth $500,000 but the owner opts to only insure it for $250,000 to save money on premium. Unfortunately, the aircraft is damaged and the cost to repair is $300,000. The insurance company will pay the owner $250,000 (less any deductibles) and take the aircraft. The owner will be stuck with no aircraft and only half of what it was worth to replace it. You can bet the owner will not be happy. In order to avoid this set of circumstances, many insurance carriers will not agree to a value that is more than 10% to 20% below the average value. In some cases, the insurance carrier will agree but will require a signed statement from the aircraft owner stating that they understand and agree to the potential consequences of underinsuring the aircraft.

The best way to avoid these two problems is to follow the three steps outlined above and use the most accurate value you can for your insurance coverage.

There is an alternative to taking the time and making the effort to determining the value of your aircraft for yourself and that is to hire a third party expert to determine the value for you. You can use a certified aircraft appraiser or other professional to do the leg work and save time and effort. They can furnish you with a report which you can supply to the insurance carrier as testimony to the stated value and how that value was determined.

While you may not choose to go through this process every year, it makes sense to do so at regular intervals so that, even if you do not update your insurance coverage level, you, as the aircraft owner, know what your aircraft is actually worth.

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Aircraft Asset Management 101

by David Wyndham 1. December 2009 00:00
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Do you own a car? Your home? A boat or a plane? If so, then like it or not, you have become an asset manager. Most asset management discussions tend to look at financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. But physical assets are also included. Asset management includes the management of the physical asset from acquisition, through its use and dispossession. As an aircraft operator, pilot, or maintainer, you are responsible, in whole or in part, for the value of that asset. How you operate, care for and maintain that asset will have a significant impact on its value. Regarding an aircraft, anyone who touches that aircraft has a part in maintaining its value.

When should you sell your aircraft?
Parts - repair/overhaul or replace?
Install that optional service bulletin?
Is it time to refurbish the paint and interior?

These are just a few questions that involve asset management of an aircraft.

Aircraft Asset Management has four main components:

  1. Regulatory - Is the aircraft compliant with applicable airworthiness regulations?
  2. Operational - What is needed to keep the aircraft reliable and safe?
  3. Financial - What is the market value of the aircraft?
  4. Owner - What is the return on the investment and what is the quality of the experience?

Proper maintenance is essential. This involves more than just meeting the regulations to have a safe, airworthy aircraft. If you just meet what the regulations require, then you have met the minimum standards. To maintain its value, the aircraft must be kept in top operating condition. This means both in the routine care and in the major maintenance of the aircraft. Anyone how has gone through a pre-buy can tell you that the aircraft in impeccable condition goes through smoothly. Find something amiss in the pre-buy and you keep looking. An aircraft that is clean looks well maintained. Or, an aircraft that is well maintained and looks well maintained will command the higher price (value). Who does the maintenance is just as important as what was done.

Proper maintenance records. What would be the value of an aircraft if it were missing all of its maintenance records? Again, the regulations specify what records must be kept and in some cases, for how long. This meets the spirit and letter of the law, but does not sufficiently maintain the aircraft's value. The more complete and thorough the maintenance record, the more secure is the value of the aircraft. Uncertainty causes a loss of value. Proper maintenance records detail the entire maintenance history of the aircraft and what is on paper should accurately reflect what is in the hangar.

If there is damage history, how was it documented and corrected? Was the damage repaired or replaced with new? Has the aircraft been returned to service is the same or perhaps better condition? Damage history, if fully documented and accounted for need not be the kiss of death.

Proper record keeping also means proper security of those records. You should have some sort of back up of the records, stored off site. With many operators maintaining their records on computer, this should be easy. Even paper records can be scanned, indexed, and stored off site. When the aircraft and records go off to a maintenance facility, you'd better have a backup copy. While rare, aircraft do leave the maintenance facility missing some of their records. If that happens, you can get into some expensive arguments about who was responsible and how much that the lost records are worth. How much can lost records cost? How much is that aircraft worth if is was not able to be proven as airworthy?

Proper upgrades and enhancements. What is the service bulletin status of your aircraft? Beyond the mandatory service bulletin lie a number of optional service bulletins. Which ones add value to your aircraft (i.e. are popular for your model)? Have you added or upgrades the avionics? If so, is the aircraft a unique design or is it brought up to newer standards? In art, a one of a kind piece is essential to its value. With aircraft, it is not. Non-standard modifications do not add value. They may be essential to the mission, but uniqueness in an aircraft is not a selling point.

Asset management should be part of the aircraft planning from the start. All too often, asset management is only considered when the decision to sell the aircraft is made. This just touches the tip of the asset management game.

What are your thoughts or tips on your current asset management program? Your feedback is what we need to learn more.

Update On The Consequences Of An Airman’s First DWI

by Greg Reigel 1. December 2009 00:00
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With the holidays upon us, and the multitude of parties serving holiday "cheer" during this season, airmen should be aware of the FAA's revised policy regarding its treatment of an airman who is arrested for his or her first driving-while-intoxicated ("DWI") violation. (This also includes similar charges such as driving-under-the-influence ("DUI") and operating-while-intoxicated ("OWI") etc.).

The Old Policy

Up until now, an airman's first DWI offense was a "gimme." Although the aviation medical examiner ("AME") was supposed to obtain court documents from the airman relating to the offense (which didn't always happen) and question the airman about his or her alcohol or drug use to determine if the airman had a substance abuse problem, the FAA did not require any further information or explanation from the airman and the DWI did not have any adverse impact on the airman's ability to obtain a medical certificate. However, that has changed.

The New Policy

According to the Winter Edition of The Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin, under the new policy when an airman reports a DWI on his or her medical application, the airman will still have to provide the AME with copies of the court documents relating to the offense and the AME will question the airman about his or her alcohol or drug use to determine if the airman has a substance abuse/chemical dependency condition. If the airman's blood alcohol content ("BAC") was 0.15 or less, and the AME doesn't believe the airman is otherwise ineligible, the AME will issue the airman his or her medical certificate.

However, if the airman's BAC was greater than 0.15 or the airman refused to let the police take a sample, the AME may not issue the medical certificate and will have to defer the medical application to the FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City. When the Medical Certification folks receive the application, they will require that the airman obtain a substance abuse evaluation from a recognized counselor before they will consider issuing the airman a medical certificate.

The practical effect of the new policy on an airman arrested for DWI with a.0.15 or less BAC is really no different than it is currently. As you should know, FAR §61.15 requires an airman to make a written report to the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division if his or her drivers license is administratively suspended as a result of an arrest for a DWI, and again if the airman is ultimately convicted of DWI.

In the majority of states, a driver's license is administratively suspended automatically under the applicable implied consent statute when the driver is arrested for DWI. Thus, when an airman is arrested for DWI in most states, the resulting administrative implied consent suspension must be reported to the FAA under FAR §61.15 even though the arrest has not resulted in a conviction (which, if it subsequently happens, must also be reported). Thus, the FAA will receive information of the "arrest" regardless of whether an airman has also disclosed it on a medical application.

However, for an airman who had a BAC greater than 0.15 the new policy's impact could be more significant. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the DWI, which will be reviewed in the court records, and the results of the evaluation, the FAA could determine that the airman has a chemical dependency/substance abuse condition that makes the airman ineligible for a medical certificate. In that instance the FAA would deny the airman's application for a medical certificate even though the airman may ultimately beat the DWI charge and avoid a conviction.

At first, this new policy may appear to create new incentive for an airman with a BAC greater than 0.15 not to disclose the DWI on his or her medical application. After all, an airman might wonder, "if I don't disclose the offense, how will the FAA know?" However, omitting the DWI information from a medical application is not recommended because the FAA will, eventually, find out about the DWI.

When an airman signs the medical application, he or she gives the FAA permission to search the National Driver Registry. Each week, the FAA Security Division sends airmen-identifying information to the registry and, if they receive a "hit," the FAA checks the airman's medical examination records to see if the airman reported the DWI as required. Thus, the chances of getting caught at some point in time are pretty good. Also keep in mind that the consequences for failing to disclose the DWI arrest or conviction on the medical application remain severe: Revocation of all airmen certificates.

Conclusion

The FAA is getting even more serious about airmen arrested and/or convicted for alcohol related driving offenses. At this time of year when opportunities abound for celebration and consumption of holiday "cheer", exercise discretion and drink responsibly.

I wish you all safe and happy holidays!

For more information regarding aviation law, safety and security, e-mail Greg at greigel@aerolegalservices.com or visit his website at www.aerolegalservices.com.

My question to you this month is; Do you believe that the FAA should have the ability to run your records with the National Driver Registry? If not why?

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Greg Reigel

Airspeed is King: A Christmas Gift from an Old Duster Pilot

by Jeremy Cox 1. December 2009 00:00
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Since it is impractical for me to send each and every one of you an individual Christmas gift, I felt that instead I could at least give you some of the wisdom that I had learnt many years ago, which I hope might actually save your life if ever you decide to get low amongst the killer trees and wires that dot much of our landscapes.

How am I qualified to impart this knowledge you may ask? Well I once taught crop flying techniques to students from around the World, and during this period of my life I can tell you that I ran the ragged-edge many a time, with luck somehow staying with me in the cockpit so I am able to write this article for you today. So without much further ado here is your Christmas present:

AIRSPEED
The absolute number-one fact that does truly shadow the importance of everything else that I will tell you in this piece is this: "Airspeed is King." Trust me. Regardless of what tomfoolery you might be attempting in your aircraft, if you do not have sufficient airspeed to make it through the manoeuvre, you will snap, slip, slide, flip or stagger and fall out of it. This is okay if you are three or four hundred feet above the ground, but at two hundred feet and below there are no two ways about it; you are going to hit the deck and it is highly likely that you will not be able to walk away from it.

What do I mean by "Airspeed is King"? Well when you fly more than a couple of hours every day, you will quickly develop a sixth sense that stems from multiple physical forces that are acting upon your body and brain. I will cover this later, but with experience in feeling your speed through your controls and your bottom you will instinctively know without ever having to look at your airspeed indicator that you are 'on-speed.' If you haven't developed this sense then you really shouldn't be flying close to the ground. But if you are so foolhardy to do this based on your instruments instead of your buttocks and hands, then you had better at least keep your speed in the green arc; and that's with your wings-level. I don't want you cranking in the bank and having to rely on an indicator to tell you if you are above the increased stall-speed that comes with steep angles of bank. If the controls start getting sloppy and you feel some burbling in the tail, then you are on the ragged edge, and the old girl that you are slapping through the air is ready to blow you a kiss that you definitely won't want. Push her beyond these sensations and "BAM!" Trust me; I've done it at altitude using a flat cloud as my simulated ground deck and found that regardless of how nice your bird stalls wings level with a steady even pull till the break comes, you whack some bank in and get her turning for your return swath path back down the field, and this lady is going to snap you upside down. This is okay with sufficient height to recover but when you are only at one hundred and fifty feet or less, which is about where you crank the bank in to return your path inbound back to the end of the field after climbing out and away, the aircraft may not even have time to get to inverted, and instead you will likely cartwheel in. Always remember that your wing will stall at the same angle for the given speed that you have fed in, so be gentle on the controls whenever you are slow.

DOWNWIND TURNS
The next fact of survival is this: "Never make a Downwind Turn." How do you know which way the wind is blowing? Well first; shame on you for not knowing! Mother Nature is an easy book to read if you know where the chapters begin and end. Before you ease your aircraft below five hundred feet you should have read the surface of any water that you have passed over. You will see which direction that the fine patterns of ripples are travelling. If there are no ripples because there is no water along your route, then look for any smoke that you can espy within your panorama. Which way is it drifting? Failing this, then look at which way the leaves on the trees are turned. Are they trembling? Follow their bend from stem to tip; you will see what great windsocks they really are if you learn to read them correctly. No leaves, then how about the grass? The same observations apply to their blades as they do for tree-leaves.

Once you begin to relate reported wind speeds to the movements in nature, you will soon be able to judge wind speed very accurately as well. If you are really unlucky and have absolutely no references to read from because you are flying over a featureless desert or snow-scape, you will just have to run a quick diversionary course along a shadow or stain on the ground, just like you would if you were checking your compass deviation. Make at least three runs at the same speed and height (the more the better), but on different headings and watch how and where you drift. You are looking for a rate and direction of your drift over this point-of-reference line.

Okay back to downwind turns. Do you remember the concept of relative wind back in your flight school days? Well there is no real mystery here except for the fact that you might feel comfortable at a speed heading into wind, but change the dynamics by heading away from and with the wind while you are slow and close to the ground, then I promise you that you will very quickly feel the controls go slack and wobbly, which a dead giveaway for letting the king lose his head (remembering that "Airspeed is King.")

LIFE SAVER
So what about the distraction caused from hitting a tall weed, a brush-pile, a down-draft, a wasp sting, smoke in the cockpit, chatter on your radio, or whatever? How do you make sure that you don't turn your head after losing your concentration during your run and the ground quickly sucks you into her wicked embrace? The easiest and no-cost insurance is found in your trusty trim wheel. Okay so you might make your arm ache by the end of a long day but in no time your muscles will quickly adapt and grow to accommodate the force. What am I blathering on about? It's this: Wind-in some 'nose-up' trim before you leave the safety of a five hundred foot AGL height. If anything happens to either you or your steed while you are both close to the deck, the natural overriding force that is now naturally in-play is that the climbing trim that will safely lift you out of trouble without you having to think about it. Don't crank enough in that will make you do a ground level loop; but do dial enough in that will have you climbing at a good one hundred and fifty feet per minute, or more. You can thank me later for this tip after it has saved your life, which it will if you are buggering about close to the ground.

PULL-UPS AND DROP-OVERS
So what about trees or hills, or whatever? I won't talk about buildings here because you shouldn't be dropping chemicals or fertilizers near them, and if you are not working for a farmer or government agency, then you are busted for being somewhere that you don't belong, and even though you may not get caught this time, you still have it on your conscious. No, what I am talking about is how close can you get before pulling up and over them? Well airspeed is the answer to this question combined with how heavy you and your lovely winged date are, as a couple. You have a hopper full of stuff and the lady will act like she has made too many trips to the buffet by moving very slowly, so account for this fact by easing her up early. As she sheds her weight by you metering it off and out onto the field that you are working, you will eventually be yanking up and over instead of easing up above them. I have measured as few as three fuselage lengths before a hard pull when I've been close to depleting my payload. Weight increases inertia, or what I mean to say is that you will experience 'mushing' before the controls bite and change your trajectory. With less weight onboard will result in less mush. Fir trees can present a tall obstruction to zap over, but they are fairly safe obstructions because they are ordered and somewhat slender beings. Oak trees are a different story because they can have all sorts of errant and disorderly branches that might reach up and snatch at your main undercarriage, tailwheel, wing leading edges or tail feathers. If the branch is meaty enough, you might find yourself staggering into the tree-line instead of sailing over it.

Lastly never forget that trees are the nesting place of choice for birds, and I have seen some bloody great birds launch themselves out of a tree canopy. Getting a crane or heron through your windscreen while low and slow might make that day your last. Practice, judgement, more practice, all at varying weights will go hand-in-hand with your sphincter, in telling you how close you can get before you need to pull-up and over.

KILLER WIRES
What about wires then? Please read this, and re-read it until you can recite this in your sleep: "All Wires Kill!" How do they kill you may ask? Well if you don't know that they are there, then they will kill you for certain. A survey of the field from the ground will save your life; but I will cover this later on. What I am trying to impart to you is that if you fly through a wire and it doesn't sever, and instead it grabs you like an arrester cable on an aircraft carrier, you will sadly and immediately see the 'Game-Over' sign flash in your head as you are smacked down.

Now let's consider all of the rest of the wires that populate our planet. These are the nice ones that don't want to kill you, because you have already been introduced to them on the ground and therefore have met before (see field survey later.) These almost charming wires are now just a minor inconvenience for as long as you keep their presence at the forefront of your thoughts, as you streak across the crop rows. The only decision required with these friendly wires is whether you are going over, or under them. You can only decide this if you have seen them while you have been standing safely and firmly on the ground. Without a survey the only decision that you can make is that you are going over them, period-no compromise.

If you have determined earlier that you are going under them then what technique must you use? Well there is no secret here other than that you must follow the golden rule of never fixating on the wire itself. Set up your traversing height as you make the approach, but keep your eyes ahead without looking at the wire and instead feel it through your sixth sense as it slides overhead. Keep the poles in your peripheral vision especially if they closely spaced, making sure that you don't catch one on either of your wing-tips.

Apart from the points made above, flying under a wire, or any other ground feature is really a non-event. Please don't ever do this on a blustery day though, because I guarantee you that even friendly wires will immediately revert back to their natural psychopathic nature.

FUEL AND TIME
Another issue that might kill you is fuel starvation. If you don't know how much your girl drinks during a typical sortie, then you are as good as a walking corpse. Start out with the certainty of how much fuel you have got and that it is enough for the planned operation. Set and live by it like your life depends on it because really it does. A fixed pull-up and return to base time is an absolute that you cannot deviate from. Once you have established this parameter; and it must be done before you crank your engine you then must write you're 'start-time' and the pull-up time, down on your hand so you cannot forget it. This may sound unnecessary to you, but I promise you that as soon as you get into the mesmerizing groove out in the field, running back and forth laying a swath, your mind will wander. Without those critical times written on your hand you might be forced to experience the terror of pulling up over a tree line and feeling your aircraft coughing and settling into a glide because you have run out of go-juice.

SIXTH SENSE
Okay so what about this mystical business of developing a sixth sense? There is no mystery here either because once you start wearing your aircraft instead of being perched within; you will naturally develop this feeling that the aircraft is an extension of your own being. Your eyes, ears, sense of smell, the palms of your hands, the bottom of your feet, your shoulders through the straps, the hairs on the back of your neck, your sphincter, and lastly the 'seat of your pants'...your buttocks, will all develop an acutely heightened sense of feeling. Every rise, fall, acceleration, deceleration and angle shall become apparent to you. You will be able to feel your buoyancy in the air, which ultimately lets you instinctively know just how much lift you have in reserve that can be called upon for your next manoeuvre. The days of needing to look at your slip/skid indicator ball are long gone once you reach this nirvana. You will instantly know when your trajectory whether straight, curved, rolling or turning, is in perfect balance and is harmonized like it is supposed to be. If it is not, you would have instinctively pressed on the appropriate rudder pedal to bring your lady straight, regardless of where you are heading, or in what flying state that you are pushing her through.

USING YOUR FEET
What's that; you don't really know how to use the rudder? Well it is about time that you did! The best way to learn this is to keep pressure on your pedals at all times. In a way you are bracing yourself, but in truth you are setting the correct triangulation connection up between you and your interface with your aircraft. If you are used to doing a lot of high-altitude flying on autopilot with your feet planted on the floor and not resting on your pedals, then I am afraid to say that except for the controlled crashes that normally call landings, I must plead with you to please stay away from the ground as much as possible when you fly.

I will end this article with an insight into the required planning and subsequent field manoeuvres that are all required to be accomplished by a 'duster pilot' to properly and safely treat a field with a payload.

PREFLIGHT SURVEY
Before ever getting in the aircraft you must plan the sortie. You must have a detailed map of the field which has been marked and double-checked by the person that has asked you to treat the field. It would be a disaster to work the wrong field. Apart from being upsetting to everyone involved, you can actual cause property damage or even worse depending on what you have in your hopper. Now go out to the field and survey it from the ground; preferably on foot. The height of the tree line, wires, barns and hills must be fixed in your head, and a flight profile properly planned. Fly every swath with your mind's eye, and identify any problems before they become disasters. This is because once you are dropping into the field on your first run, this is definitely not the first time that you should be seeing an irrigation pump or standpipe out in the middle of the field. Talking of which, these fixtures love to tear undercarriage legs off the aircraft that is flown by an ill-prepared pilot.

Now that you have the lay of the land sorted out in your head, and you have scrawled sufficient notes directly onto your map, you may now go back to your office and figure out the load quantities and fuel requirements. With all of this work done and the calendar window of when you will make the application onto the field has been agreed upon, then all you will have to do is wait for the appropriate weather to arrive. When you are spraying a liquid, a windless or near windless day provides the best conditions for you to make your runs. When dropping solids like a fertilizer, the wind is less of a factor however you will probably find that your busiest times come during the very early morning and the late afternoon of each suitable spraying day.

AN ACTUAL SORTIE
You are now airborne and you have already read all of natures signs on the ferry-ride over to the field that you will be working. Please don't immediately swoop down and go to work as soon as you arrive at your worksite, though. First it is imperative that you make a survey of the field again, but this time it will be made from the air. Obviously this so that you can make certain that you are about to treat the correct field, but also more so that you can scope out any topographical changes that may have taken place since you last visited the site while on the ground. Wires may have been strung that were not there before, or any other structural feature may have been changed. You will only know this by surveying from a safe height, both flying the perimeter and the middles of the field. Two hundred feet above ground level works pretty well for this, but any height will do just as long as you make sure that you remain above all terrain and structural obstructions until you are absolutely ready to make your entry into the field on an actual money run.

If you have difficult areas like tall tree lines and the like, I suggest that you get the majority of the field treated and then when you are lighter, you can clean up and tackle these tricky areas more safely. When beginning a field, always start at the downwind end and work your way across it upwind, so you stay out of the drift from your swaths. Your runs should be evenly spaced appropriate to your wingspan and the spread from your delivery system. At the end of each run you will add power, pull up initiate your turn to about forty five degrees downwind of your direction of run (yes, I did say downwind, but you did this fast with plenty of airspeed) then you will make your slowest but level and balanced turn into wind looking for the 'roll wings level point' on the centre of your next swath run. At this point you 'come down the hill' from your turning height to cross over the fields' boundary. You have reduced the power that you added to leave the field, and then some to enable your round-out at the optimum height at the start of the next row. As you regain the groove for your path across the field just over, or slightly after passing the boundary, you feed in the necessary power to make a uniform delivery run. When I did this in the Piper Pawnee I always flew the field runs at 100 MPH. My target wheel height above the crops was three feet. My right hand held the stick while my left hand worked the throttle and the delivery valve, which when spraying I would refer to as 'booms' (it controlled the spray booms on the trailing edge of both wings.) The movements into and out of a run went as follows: Left Hand - Power then Booms; Right Hand - simultaneously Round-Out and set height. My Feet kept me true and on line depending on the strength of my crosswind. On leaving the field I did the same as I did for entry with some slight variation: Left Hand - Power then Booms; Right Hand - simultaneously ease up to safe banking height, set-up a climbing 45 degree track. My feet keeping my turn perfectly balanced. Then the into-wind turn to the field entry point projection line. Left Hand - reducing power; Right Hand and Feet setting up my alignment, then the same as before on my last field entry.

Anyhow that's how you should do it, and unless I have completely confused you; by following the methods that I have outlined above, should keep you and your aircraft in one piece for many years of low-level flying to come.

Now that I have given you the proper "hand and cheek" techniques of tree top flying I know that many of our readers have a few tails (sorry had to put that in) to tell and if you are so bold to tell us the outcome I am sure we will all gain in our experience at flying on the deck.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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Jeremy Cox



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