Well, here we are the beginning of yet another year, so Happy New Year! As I write this it is November of 2023 and even though you are getting it in January of 2024, a lot has happened or is happening. As you all know the FAA sent out a NPRM for the rudders on pretty much every fabric covered Piper aircraft. We are also in the planning stages of our 2024 annual membership meeting/convention, and we have had some more changes within the leadership of the club.
Sometimes things beyond our control happen in our lives, and unfortunately Laura Wattles had to decide what I am sure was not easy for her, but she resigned from her position as Secretary of the Club. We hate to see her leave the office, but her family must be her priority and we just want to thank Laura for all she has done and wish her the best going forward.
I hope we can still call on her for help and ideas in the future and she will continue to manage the club Facebook page. While Laura will be missed by all, we did need to find a replacement to fill the vacancy.
Our search led us down a few different paths, but one of those took us to North Richland Hills, Texas, to Jim Kirkendall. Jim has stepped up to fill this vacancy on the Board to help keep the club going in the right direction. Not only is Jim enthusiastic, but he has four, yes four, airplanes! He is bringing a wealth of ownership experience to the Board of Directors, and that will benefit our membership. So, please help us all make Jim feel welcome to this new and exciting position.
As many of you want to know where and when our 2024 annual membership meeting and convention will be, the wait is now over and we are heading to the northwest, in Madras, Oregon, from June 17- 20. The Madras Municipal airport (S33) is at 2,438’ MSL with a 5,091’ x 75’ 16-34 runway and a 2,701’ x 50’ 04-22 runway. The meet & greet will be held at the airport on Monday June 17, and after we have some food and refreshments, we are going to take a walk down the flight line and have the owners take 5-10 minutes to tell us about their plane and about their experience getting there. At that time, we will also get a photo of the owner/pilot and crew with their plane.
The headquarters for this convention will be the Inn At Cross Keys Station in Madras, not far from the airport. The rooms are a bit more expensive than in years past, with King rooms costing $149.99 plus tax and the double Queen rooms are $159.99 plus tax, with tax coming to about $15.00. We will have the conference room every day for things like registration, morning gathering, membership and Board of Directors meetings, and seminars throughout the week. To reserve rooms, call Josh Hatfield or Mijial Garcia at (541) 475-5800 and make sure to tell them that this is for the Short Wing Piper Club.
We are working on what we think will be some really good presentations during the week. The plan is to make a deep dive into the care and feeding of our airplanes as well as maintenance items on our planes. There will also be a seminar about mountain flying, so we should all learn a lot from this presentation. We will also have some activities for the ladies that do not want to learn about replacing spark plugs or changing oil. We are planning to pack each day with all kinds of valuable information that you should never leave home without, so make your plans to attend now. Watch the website and Facebook page for registration information coming soon.
Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere, you have heard about the FAA NPRM for the Piper rudders. Well, that was a very far over-reaching effort, and we have taken the task of trying to make it more user friendly. While it was a limited condition on just a couple planes flying in Alaska and modified from the original TCDS, this NPRM would have affected over 30,000 fabric-covered Piper aircraft. We picked up the torch on your behalf and started assembling a very knowledgeable team to take on this task. We were able to get several heavy hitters to back our efforts, and some of them are the VAA, EAA, AOPA, and Piper Flyer magazine.
After assembling the team to take on this challenge, our first order of business was to ask for an extension of 90 days to give us the time we needed to gather the supporting data. We sent emails to you, our members and asked you to step up and send your comments to the FAA, and you did that! Our next steps are to gather the data to show that not all of these planes should be included in this NPRM, and to also isolate the root cause of these failures. We will be instrumenting a rudder and doing some vibration analysis with several different props and with and without the beacon on top. We would really like to find a 150 or 160 hp PA-12 or PA-14 to run these same tests on.
Our goal is to show that some planes should not be included at all, while others can just have a simple test to verify the condition of the rudder is safe and will not pose a threat of in-flight failure. We want to have a test that is not invasive and easy to accomplish, yet one that will show the structure is sound and safe to fly. Yes, there might be some rudders that do not pass the test, but it will be far less than 30,000, and a lot more affordable for the owners.
The bottom line here is safety! So, we encourage you to include a simple inspection and maybe a slight push sideways on top of the rudder at either preflight or postflight. You are our most valuable asset and we do not want to see any of you get hurt because of a failure. We are working with the FAA and NTSB for you so we can continue to enjoy these planes for many years to come. We also want you to remember that for us to support and represent you, we need your support as well!
Another topic we need to cover is the SWPC News! This is your newsletter, and the more you contribute, the better it is for everyone. If you have a tip or something that you have found that makes things easier, share it with the rest of us! I also want to make a personal request of you. When you purchase items from the companies that advertise in the SWPC News, make sure you let them know where you saw their ad. If you talk to them on the phone, tell them you saw their ad in the SWPC News, and if you are ordering online, where there is a block for instructions, put in that block that you saw their ad in the SWPC News. We need to support the people that support us!
Just one more thing we need to talk about. We announced in the Supplement that if you bring 5 new members to the club within a 6- month period, we will give you a tumbler or coffee mug with the Short Wing Piper Club logo and your “N” number on it. The way to do this is ask them to tell us when they join that they were referred by you and it would be in your best interest to keep a list of your recommended new members, so we can verify those new members and get you your tumbler! Remember, this is your club and it can only get better with your participation and help.
Happy New Year,