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“We sold an airplane to somebody who had 11 airplanes one time,” John recalled during a recent conversation, “and he said, ‘You have to fly my airplanes.’ We flew all 11 airplanes in one day.” ohn wasn’t bragging. He told the anecdote while he and Martha were discussing crosswind landing characteristics of various aircraft at the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) Convention in Orlando last fall. John and Martha, at the convention to receive the NBAA’s prestigious American Spirit Award, took time out to share their techniques for checking out unfamiliar aircraft with me. (Caveats about studying the Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) beforehand and flying with a qualified demo pilot duly noted). The understanding and enthusiasm they brought to the subject helps explain the popularity of the King School videos and CDs. More than half of all pilots are said to have received instruction via their videos and CDs. In person the Kings are every bit as unpretentious and open as they appear in their videos. But once the talk turns to aviation, it’s as if someone called out, “Take one!” “Everything about an airplane is a compromise,” John, said, as we plunged into the topic in a small conference room above the convention floor. “You’re compromising speed with simplicity, maneuverability, maintainability and runway performance,” Martha added. “And what you’re trying to do as you’re getting familiar with an airplane,” John continued, “is know where these compromises were struck. You want to know how this airplane handles a given situation. And as you walk up to an airplane, you can tell a lot about that.”

The Wing The Kings begin their static assessment of aircraft handling characteristics at the wing. “Is the wing relatively thin or relatively fat?,” John first asks himself. “When you look at a (Piper) Cherokee, the original Cherokees had fat Hershey Bar wings, and they don’t perform well at high altitude, but they’re very benign in a stall. Take a look at a Mooney versus a Cherokee. It has thin, relatively long wings. The Mooney’s going to be faster, and tapered long wings do better at high

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altitude because they have less induced drag, and less lift is being destroyed at the wingtips. A smaller percentage of the long, tapered wing is wingtip.” Ailerons and flaps also reveal handling and operating envelope clues. “What kind of flaps does it have?,” Martha asks. “How big are they and how far down do they deploy? That will tell me a lot about how much the stalling speed is going to be reduced when you put the flaps down, whether it affects it a lot or not much at all.” “You can also look at how the ailerons travel,” John added. “If the airplane has more up aileron travel than down aileron, it isn’t going to have as much adverse yaw as an airplane where the ailerons move the same amount in each direction. It’s the

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PilotMag-May/June 2010  

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Aviation magazine

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