New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

9 Replies

New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Daniel Columbus on Oct 22, 2018 11:54 am

Hi all,  I was an active pilot years ago and worked as an air traffic controller at Memphis Center. I got a Piper Archer II as a good family travel plane, and fixed it up with new hoses, wheels, tires, paint and other stuff to try to make my nervous-flyer wife more comfortable.  The mechanic that did the work was the son-in-law of one of my coworkers and he would come out to my hangar to work on the plane. It was good for a while, but then he started making surprise visits to the hangar and wanting to put lots of "extras" on the plane. He wanted to do a LOT more than the annuals and any repairs that came up. He showed up one day with some protective tape to put on the plane and I didn't want that, so he handed me the logbooks and quit. Between work, family and life in general, I quit flying, but kept the Archer in a hangar and cleaned it and did a few oil changes to try to keep it in good shape.  I didn't want to give up on my childhood dream of flying. I had to retire from the FAA due to the 56 year old age restriction on controllers and now I am trying to get back to flying. Trying is the key word. I can't find anybody in my area to work on the Archer and get everything current again. I've got the Archer based in a hangar at Millington, TN (KNQA) and I checked with the Tulsair FBO, and they were very friendly but they can't do annuals on Pipers. I used the web site contact page three times for CTI with no response. I visited the CTI facility one day and walked around the entire building for 25 minutes and could not find anybody! I even yelled a few times to see if I could stir up someone. Someone at the radio control field I go to suggested a mechanic and an instructor at Downtown Aviation at a nearby field so I have called them several times leaving a message for the chief mechanic, but no call back yet. I didn't realize that getting back in the air was soooooo difficult. I know the plane is way out of annual, but I have checked the ADs and Service Bulletins, and there isn't anything major to be done. It is just amazing that it is so difficult to find someone to get an aircraft back in the air again. If anyone has suggestions about how to fix this problem, I would really appreciate it.
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Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Brennan Callan on Oct 22, 2018 8:25 pm

Hi Dan, et al.,
I am sorry to read about your problems in TN.  One good option for you is to contact your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and ask if they have the list of Aircraft and Powerplant Mechanics in TN.  There is likely an online list for these folks.  Then use that list to start making phone calls. 

Another option is to contact your aircraft manufacturer to ask them for suggestions.

Then another option is to research adult aviation mechanic schools in your area.  You might find that a nearby school/college has a helpful program.  Here in Louisville, KY, we have the Jefferson Community and Technical College, and then in Somerset, KY is another program.  Not far to the north of us in Indiana are other programs that can help folks.  Some of the college programs might be able to help you make your occasional repairs and that helps them to have planes for the students to work on.  Realize that their time schedule might not be as fast as a rated mechanic, but their prices might be more in your budget.  They all are required to abide by the same standards.

I hope that these suggestions are going to make you feel more comfortable that the awkwardness created by the mechanic you discussed.  Certainly, if you have endless money, you could replace lots of items in your plane, but most people have finite budgets and that guy was not respecting your wishes.  It sounds as if you are better off without him.

Brennan Callan

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Ronald Levy on Oct 23, 2018 11:21 am

You only got part of the story about Tulsair.  Here's the rest...

Tulsar is a Beech service center with a Part 145 Certified Repair Station certificate.  Under that certificate, their repair technicians (i.e., those who don't hold FAA A&P certificates) can only work on the aircraft listed on that certificate, which is basically the Beech line and does not include Pipers.  To add Piper to the list, they'd have to get all the Piper maintenance/parts/repair manuals and specifically train/certify their non-A&P technicians on Pipers, and they don't foresee sufficient Piper business justify the expense of doing that.  However, they do have some people who hold regular FAA A&P/IA certificates and could work on/inspect Pipers under regular Part 65 maintenance authority if they had the manuals.  If you were to purchase the necessary manuals yourself, they could do the maintenance and annuals on your Archer using your manuals.  Call Mark in their maintenance department at 901-873-4780 and talk it over with him.

Another solution is to look around the airport and ask the other Piper owners (out of 61 single-engine airplanes on the field, I'm sure yours isn't the only Piper) where they get their maintenance done.

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Jon Quarry on Oct 26, 2018 2:31 am

Hi Daniel,

I am connected in the maintenance field around the Memphis, TN area and have a suggestion for you.  I know a mechanic that used to work at Downtown Aviation with Matt who you were trying to get in touch with and he is well versed in general aviation while he does airline work from Wilson Air Center at MEM.  The mechanic that could do your annual is Michael Grace and his number is (901) 371-7244.  His website is http://www.vortexaviation.aero/  I hope this helps you out with getting back in the air! If not, let me know and we can go from there.

Cheers,
Jon

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by James Mc Laughlin on Nov 1, 2018 8:31 am

You really won't know if anything 'major' needs to be done until you have a proper inspection.  For example you don't mention how you have preserved the engine.  Internal corrosion could be an issue.  There may also be new AD's that have been issued since your last inspection.  Search for similar aircraft in your area and contact the owners for recommendations on service.

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Daniel Columbus on Nov 2, 2018 6:59 pm

An update on my getting the aircraft going again.  Matt from Downtown Aviation met me at the hangar to look over the Archer. He said it looked real good. I have been keeping a file of all ADs, SBs and service letters since the last annual. I always did that before anyway so I would know what would come up in the next annual. Matt has the logbooks now to get ready for the service, so things are rolling along.  I have run the engine some so we can check all the systems. It started up and ran fine. As far as the comment about Tulsair, I DID talk to them and they did explain why they could not do the service. I didn't think I needed to write a book here about what they were certified to do inspections on, just that they couldn't do Piper inspections. I have no problems with Tulsair and they are a great FBO at KNQA. I know it takes a lot to get everything certified with the FAA and they certainly don't need to waste the time and money if there isn't a market to justify it.
    Anyway, thanks to everybody that helped with advice. Hopefully I will meet you guys at the field some time.

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Ronald Levy on Nov 2, 2018 7:11 pm

Daniel Columbus:
As far as the comment about Tulsair, I DID talk to them and they did explain why they could not do the service. I didn't think I needed to write a book here about what they were certified to do inspections on, just that they couldn't do Piper inspections. I have no problems with Tulsair and they are a great FBO at KNQA. I know it takes a lot to get everything certified with the FAA and they certainly don't need to waste the time and money if there isn't a market to justify it.

And yet Mark at Tulsair indicated their A&P/IA-licensed mechanics could do the work under Part 65 rather than their Part 145 repair station certificate if you provided the manuals.  I guess Matt already has them, which saves you the expense.  OTOH, there are good reasons for having the maintenance and parts manuals for whatever aircraft you own, and carrying them with you (at least in electronic form), as you never know where you might break and whether the maintenance facility where you're broken has the right manuals.  I've got the Grumman manuals on the same iPad where all my flying materials are located so they go with me wherever/whenever I fly my plane.

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Daniel Columbus on Nov 2, 2018 10:27 pm

And yet Mark at Tulsair indicated their A&P/IA-licensed mechanics could do the work under Part 65 rather than their Part 145 repair station certificate if you provided the manuals.

Ronald Levy

I'm not sure what your issue is about this. The person I talked to at Tulsair said that they could not do the work. I asked him if there was anybody he knew of at KNQA that could do the work. He said that CTI will only work on their own aircraft and he did not know of anybody else at KNQA that could do the work. He suggested I check with the Total Air Group at Memphis International. Also, when I talked to him, I stated I had all logbooks AND MANUALS. I do believe an aircraft owner should have all manuals concerning their aircraft.

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Donald Shelley on Nov 5, 2018 9:43 am

Welcome back to the left seat Daniel.  I live a few miles south of Memphis and keep my PA28 at West Memphis.  I’m a retired A&P (FedEx) and meet often with friends, retired or still active in maintenance, avionics and other aviation related skills.  I’d enjoy meeting you, seeing your airplane and share a few opinions about all those things that make up our aviation hobbies and careers .  Glad to see you found someone to get and keep your airplane up to airworthy standards.  There are several very qualified Piper guys in the area.  The shop at West Memphis being among the best.  Always have the coffee machine ready at my hangar at West Memphis.   

Re: New to AOPA Hangar but not to flying

Posted by Tim Hill on Nov 5, 2018 1:25 pm

I recently purchased a Twin Comanche after 22 years of flying. Fortunately the mechanic which did my work prior to getting out of Flying is still in business.  He did my annual and he knows Piper aircraft.  He is based in Clarksville AR.  You might give him a call 479 705 1250.