Changing Things: Top Traps


By
Lisa
Turner,
EAA
Lifetime
509911


This
piece
originally
ran
in
Lisa’s
Airworthy
column
in
the
July
2022
issue
of


EAA
Sport
Aviation


magazine.

“You
just
haven’t
flown
until
you
fly
a
Stearman,”
Ed
said
as
he
waved
his
arms
in
the
air.
“Being
out
there
in
the
rushing
wind
is
such
a
kick.”

“True,
but
my
ultralight
does
the
same
thing
for
a
lot
less
machinery

and
you
can
see
out
of
it,”
Wendy
laughed.
“Have
you
decided
to
buy
Tom’s
Stearman?”

“I
think
so.
It
was
converted
years
ago
from
a
duster,
but
he
flies
it
all
the
time,
so
it
should
be
just
fine.”

“Prebuy?”

“No.
They’re
expensive,
and
Tom
takes
good
care
of
the
airplane.
I
can’t
imagine
what
could
be
wrong
with
it.”

“Ah,
I
don’t
want
to
be
a
wet
blanket,
but…”
Wendy
said.
She
lost
Ed’s
attention
as
he
looked
at
the
ad
sheet
Tom
had
given
him.

I
better
not
say
anything
,
she
thought.

The
next
week,
as
Wendy
was
doing
a
preflight
on
her
Quicksilver,
she
looked
up
to
see
Ed
landing
the
Stearman.
It
was
a
beautiful
blue
color
with
silver
stripes.
Ed
taxied
up
to
the
hangars,
idled
the
big
radial
for
a
minute,
and
then
shut
down.

“Beautiful,”
Wendy
said.
“That
engine
looks
bigger
than
my
entire
airplane.”

“Come
fly.”

“Not
now.
I’m
going
up
in
the
aircraft
with
visibility.”

“Don’t
say
that.
Once
you’re
up
there
in
this
aircraft,
the
view
is
wonderful.”

“To
each
their
own.
So,
you’re
happy?”

“Very.
Next
week
I’m
getting
the
annual
done.”

“Why
didn’t
you
ask
Tom
to
include
the
annual
as
a
condition
of
the
sale?”

“Because
he
gave
me
a
special
deal
without
it.”

Wendy
continued
to
have
misgivings
about
Ed’s
purchase
as
she
taxied
to
the
grass.
Little
did
she
know.

*
*
*

Ed
greeted
the
A&P/IA
mechanic.

“Ed?
Hi,
I’m
Scott.”

“I
have
all
the
covers
off
for
you,
and
the
logbooks
are
right
here,”
Ed
said.

“Very
helpful.
Thank
you.”

Scott
began
the
inspection
in
the
cockpit,
making
notes
and
taking
pictures.
“Uh-oh,”
Scott
said.
“The
data
tag
is
not
original.
Looks
like
someone
ordered
this
from
Amazon.”

Scott
moved
methodically
around
the
plane
with
a
stern
expression.

“The
wings
and
the
metal
ailerons
on
the
airplane
are
not
approved
for
this
category
and
will
have
to
be
replaced.
These
dynamic
and
static
balancers
have
to
go.
Show
me
your
logbooks,
please.”

Ed’s
stomach
began
turning
into
painful
knots
as
he
handed
the
logbooks
to
Scott.

Scott
continued
around
the
airplane.

“I
don’t
see
a
logbook
entry
for
the
balance
tabs
on
the
ailerons.
The
hopper
has
been
removed
and
a
seat
installed

another
logbook
entry
that
is
missing.
I
brought
a
list
of
the
ADs,
and
I
don’t
see
that
any
of
them
were
complied
with.
And
no
337s.”

Scott
stopped
for
a
minute
and
turned
to
Ed.
“Okay,
look.
I’m
going
to
stop
here
and
give
you
a
chance
to
have
someone
qualified
get
these
corrected.
Once
they
are
completed,
call
me
and
I’ll
come
back.
In
the
meantime,
don’t
fly
this
airplane
because
it’s
illegal.”

“But
I
just
bought
this,
and
the
owner
said
it’s
been
annualed
every
year,”
Ed
stammered.

Scott
smiled
wryly.
“I
hear
that
all
the
time.”

*
*
*


Changes:
Top
Traps

In
my
20s,
I
was
obsessed
with
cars.
I
purchased
a
used
Honda
Civic.
For
those
of
you
who
remember
that
far
back,
these
were
the
definition
of
basic.
No
electric
anything.
A
few
simple
instruments.
An
underpowered
engine.
Crank
windows.
No
air
conditioning.
I
would
go
to
sleep
with
the
JC
Whitney
catalog
under
my
pillow.

I
added
electric
windows,
cruise
control,
a
bank
of
VDO
electrical
gauges,
a
high-performance
clutch,
a
wood
steering
wheel,
and
a
gearshift
knob.
It
was
so
much
fun.
I
remember
thinking
the
only
thing
more
fun
would
be
if
it
could
fly.

This
explains
why,
20
years
later,
I
took
a
similar
approach
to
the
aircraft
kit
I
was
putting
together.
I
had
to
get
a
thinner
pillow
because
the
Aircraft
Spruce
&
Specialty
catalog
was
so
thick.
While
experimenters
have
a
lot
of
latitude
to
make
“changes,”
the
certificated
airplanes
don’t
have
quite
the
same
luxury.
It’s
easier
to
coast
to
the
side
of
the
road
safely
in
an
over-modified
car
than
in
an
over-modified
airplane,
which
is
why
we
have
FAA
regulations.

If
you
are
willing
to
find
the
regulations
that
apply
to
upgrades,
modifications,
and
additions
for
aircraft,
you
might
be
surprised
at
how
easy
it
is
to
accomplish
them
legally.
Patience,
perseverance,
and
proceeding
step
by
step
will
get
you
there.
With
that
said,
when
you
read
through
the
FAA
paragraphs
on
“acceptable
data,”
“approved
data,”
“major
change,”
and
“minor
change,”
it
can
make
your
head
spin.
It’s
not
always
clear-cut,
and
mechanics
can
disagree
about
interpretation.

Rather
than
get
into
a
bog
of
semantics,
let’s
just
talk
about
some
of
the
traps
and
how
to
stay
out
of
them.
At
whatever
point
you
get
confused
and
need
help,
consult
your
local
A&P/IA
mechanic.
The
FAA
offices
also
have
folks
who
are
experts
and
can
help
you
navigate
the
details.


If
the
Aircraft
Has
Been
Annualed,
Then
It
Is
Airworthy

Humans
love
shortcuts
and
rationalization.
I’m
not
sure
where
this
trait
came
from,
but
it
is
ubiquitous
in
everything
we
do.
“Well,
this
was
working
fine
on
last
week’s
flight.
I’m
sure
it’s
fine
now”
is
one
I
hear
a
lot.

Of
course,
we’re
not
supposed
to
skip
things
because
we
know
the
omission
could
bite
us.
So,
we
need
to
“safety”
our
propensity
for
assuming
all
is
well
with
good
checklists
and
good
procedures.
The
thing
we
may
not
want
to
do
is
dig
into
paperwork.
I
understand.
But
paperwork
can
be
critical.
We
may
not
be
doing
the
work
or
the
annual,
but
as
owners
and
operators,
we
are
responsible
for
the
airworthiness
of
the
aircraft.
The
only
way
to
do
that
is
to
make
sure
others
are
doing
what
they
are
supposed
to
be
doing.

A
1946
Aeronca
Champ
went
to
a
restoration
shop
for
its
third
restoration
since
rolling
out
of
the
factory.
After
a
year
of
work,
it
was
ready
for
its
first
flight.
On
final
checks
of
paperwork,
the
A&P/IA
mechanic
asked
if
the
1948
airworthiness
directive
(AD)
to
install
leading
edge
reinforcements
(additional
PK
screws)
had
ever
been
done.*
The
answer
was
no.
This
was
an
AD
to
correct
potential
structural
failure
in
flight.
After
the
discovery,
the
wings
were
removed
and
the
fabric
was
torn
off
(with
much
angst)
to
begin
again
with
the
correct
mechanical
reinforcements
installed
per
the
AD.

On
any
annual,
make
sure
the
checklist
has
been
completed,
along
with
the
documentation.
It’s
not
difficult
to
do
this,
but
it
takes
some
discipline.
It’s
worth
it.


*ADs
are
issued
by
the
FAA
per
14
CFR
Part
39
to
correct
an
unsafe
condition
in
a
product.
Part
39
defines
a
product
as
an
aircraft,
engine,
propeller,
or
appliance.


If
the
Aircraft
Is
Experimental,
It
Doesn’t
Matter
What
You
Do
to
It

Designing
an
aircraft?
It’s
experimental

the
very
definition
of
trying
things
to
see
if
they
work.
Yes,
of
course
you
can
do
this.
Be
as
creative
as
you
want
and
play
as
much
as
you
like.
But
once
you
feel
you
are
ready
to
test
it,
get
qualified
help

think
engineering
advice

to
evaluate
it.
Then
be
disciplined
as
you
go
down
the
“condition
for
safe
operation”
path.
If
you
are
an
engineer
yourself,
it’s
still
a
good
plan
to
have
someone
else
review
the
design
and
the
test
plan.

Once
you
have
an
airworthiness
certificate,
you
may
need
advice
from
your
inspector
or
designated
airworthiness
representative
(DAR)
for
further
changes
to
the
design.
Restrictions
can
be
found
in
your
operating
limitations
that
the
FAA
inspector
or
DAR
gave
you.
FAA
Part
43,

Maintenance,
Preventive
Maintenance,
Rebuilding,
and
Alteration,

does
not
apply
to
experimental
certificates.

Far
more
common,
builders
assemble
a
kit
where
everything
has
already
been
tested
by
the
manufacturer.
Good
craftsmanship
will
turn
out
a
safe
and
reliable
airplane.
Once
again,
your
restrictions
will
be
listed
in
the
operating
limitations
for
the
aircraft.
If
you
want
to
change
wing
designs
later
knowing
that
it
will
affect
weight
and
balance
and
flight
characteristics,
give
your
DAR
or
the
FAA
office
a
call
and
find
out
what
you
need
to
do.
A
big
design
change
may
mean
reentering
a
Phase
I
test
plan.

While
the
term

experimental

may
sound
like
the
Wild
West,
it
is
well
controlled.
There
is
a
lot
of
leeway,
however,
and
if
you
follow
procedures,
you’ll
discover
it
isn’t
that
hard
to
make
changes.


If
the
Aircraft
Is
Certificated,
You
Can’t
Add
Anything
New
Because
It’s
Too
Complicated

This
is
where
I’m
going
to
encourage
you
to
be
creative.
As
long
as
you
follow
the
rules,
you’ll
be
amazed
at
what
you
can
do.
This
is
where
patience
and
perseverance
come
in.

One
owner
who
fell
in
love
with
a
1937
Waco
cabin
wanted
dual
brake
pedals
and
a
better
designed
parking
brake.
Many
mechanics
might
say,
“Don’t
change
a
thing,”
but
this
owner’s
mechanic
said,
“Sure.”
They
designed
a
more
effective
parking
brake
and
found
an
FAA
designated
engineering
representative
to
review
and
approve
it.
On
the
dual
pedals,
the
upgrade
only
required
an
FAA
Form
337
detailing
the
change
since
it
used
existing
approved
data.
While
not
completely
painless,
it
was
relatively
easy.

STCs
can
also
be
used
to
modify
aircraft.
STCs
are
additions
to
the
aircraft’s
original
type
certificate
that
allow
for
changes
to
the
original
design.
See
the
links
at
EAA.org/Extras
to
find
out
more.

Avoiding
the
trap
means
opening
up
your
mind
to
possibilities.
The
worst
thing
that
could
happen
would
be
for
the
FAA
to
say
no.
If
you
follow
the
process
and
get
a
yes,
then
you’ve
got
the
changes
you
want
in
an
airplane
you
love.

*
*
*

Whether
you
are
buying
a
used
aircraft,
restoring
an
aircraft,
or
building
an
aircraft,
make
sure
you
are
flying
a
machine
that
is
in
a
condition
for
safe
operation

and
that
your
paperwork
reflects
it.

When
we
wonder
why
there
are
so
many
regulations
around
aircraft
maintenance
and
repair,
we
need
only
look
at
the
outstanding
safety
record
of
general
aviation.
In
my
mind,
it’s
a
worthy
trade-off
for
the
delights
of
flight.


Lisa
Turner
,
EAA
Lifetime
509911,
is
a
manufacturing
engineer,
A&P,
EAA
technical
counselor
and
flight
advisor,
and
former
DAR.
She
built
and
flew
a
Pulsar
XP
and
Kolb
Mark
III
and
is
researching
her
next
homebuilt
project.
Lisa’s
third
book,

Dream
Take
Flight
,
details
her
Pulsar
flying
adventures
and
life
lessons.
Write
Lisa
at
Lisa@DreamTakeFlight.com
and
learn
more
at
DreamTakeFlight.com.

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