My first two aircraft were high-wings. I trained in my own Piper Colt in 1971 and after a few years, I moved up to a Stinson Voyager. It was actually quite a jump! The Stinson, with that big vertical stabilizer, could be a handful especially at my home airport that featured a direct crosswind most of the time. There’s a runway light there with my name on it.
Ignoring the pleas of my pilot friends, I sold the Stinson in 1974 to get married. They saw something I couldn’t, but that’s another story for another magazine. It was 10 years before I got back in the air when I purchased a Cherokee 140. That’s when I discovered that I was a low-wing guy. In 1986, I was doing well in business and it was time for an aircraft upgrade, so I started looking.
At the risk of heresy in the pages of this magazine, I must admit that the Rockwell Commander singles had caught my eye, and there in the pages of Trade- A-Plane was something I thought was pretty special. The early Commanders had lots of issues. The original 112 (200 hp) was underpowered. The 114 with 260 hp was better, but the airframe was plagued with ADs on the doors and wing spars. Machen, best known for its Aerostar mods, bought a handful of Commander 112s and reworked them. The company fixed the ADs, bolted IO-540 300-hp engines with three-bladed props on the front, did paint and interior, and called them Magnum 300s, and there they were in TAP for $28,000 (that was 1986 money, today that’s about $66,000)! I wanted one! Two individuals got in the way. The first was my insurance man who announced that insurance would be $2,000 a year; I was paying $600 for the 140. The second was wife No. 2 who announced that she did not want an airplane with “funny feet.” I ended up buying a Cherokee Six.
So, why is the avionics guy talking about “funny feet”? Seems my wife was a little right to be concerned about those funny feet and there is an avionics solution!The rest of this article can be seen only by paid members who are logged in.
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