Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


Cheap Athletic Director Jeopardizes Team

November 27-28, 1977

I flew several Navajo charters as an outsourced pilot and plane for another FBO which was contracted to do a series of flights transporting members of a major state university basketball team. Although a Navajo has eight passenger seats, it also has certain performance and structural limits common to light "cabin-class" piston-engine propellor-driven aircraft that are not suitable for eight strapping young athletes and all their personal and game equipment.

When you load eight athletes and gear and enough fuel for an IFR flight onto a Navajo CR you've got to be at least a thousand pounds overweight. Not to mention the Navajo's CG envelope narrows to a point, so you have no idea where your CG is. You just have to load all the heavy stuff forward and hope for the best. Decline to take that flight? When you're one of three and the other two (employees of the originating FBO) are willing? You'd be looking for another job soonest. So ... calling all lemmings ... the cliff is over this-a-way!! Well, I suppose ... if nothing happens ....

I don't know why no one ever explained to the university's athletic director that a light cabin-class piston twin isn't appropriate equipment for a university basketball team. Well, I suppose I do know. The FBO wanted the business. The athletic director was too cheap to hire adequate equipment. Or most likely both. The misconception is that two engines are safer. The reality is that two engines mean twice the probability of engine failure. And a piston twin will fly on one engine only when it's operated within its performance limits. Maybe somebody should have explained to the athletic director that he was exposing his team to being the subject of a major national news story if one of these airplanes he chartered should suffer an engine failure on takeoff. Or, quite frankly, at any point during the flight. One of the pilots explaining it to him? No. He wasn't there. He flew on an airline. His team and their coaches flew on the puddle-jumpers. What a cheap excuse for an athletic director.

No wonder it was at this point in my flying career I was mailing out a blizzard of resumes.



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