Tag: ferry pilot

Airplane Review – Turbo Maule M5-210

Airplane Review – Turbo Maule M5-210

By Sarah Rovner, Tailwheel ferry pilot

As a Super Cub driver, I’ve been a little biased toward airplanes with sticks. Although I do admire the amazing flying characteristics of some of the other epic yoke taildraggers such as the Cessna 180/185, I’ve always been particularly fond of airplanes with a stick. I was expecting about the same handling characteristics of the Maule M4 in the Maule M5, but was pleasantly surprised to see how versatile the M5 was.

I recently looked into buying a Maule M5 with the Franklin engine, which has a bad reputation. While doing research, I found out that many Maules had engine conversions to the Lycoming’s. Surprisingly, there just are not a whole lot of Maules flying around and the ones that are have much lower value than similar airplanes such as the C180/185. I found the Cessna 175 with the O-360 conversion to be the same way – a versatile, great performing airplane that had a bad reputation from the start with an engine that was notorious for problems (originally came with the geared O-300).

I was contacted to ferry a 1978 turbo Maule M5-210 for a client who planned on using it for mountain flying on private airstrips. This is one of 7 turbo Maules in the country that came from the factory with a carbureted, turbo-normalized Lycoming O-360 that puts out 210hp. In fact, Maule claims that the plane will maintain 200hp all the way to FL200. I found that to be true, although I didn’t take it all the way up to FL200. I was still getting sea level power at 11,500ft, with the throttle not even close to being all the way in. With the turbo and constant speed prop, I was able to take off in record distance at not even close to full power. It would maintain a 1000 fpm climb all the way up to 10,000ft, and probably much higher if I wanted it. And that also wasn’t at full power!

For a backcountry landing, I found it to be a stable airplane compared to its squirrely brother, the Maule M4-210. Although I didn’t have any big crosswinds on the trip, I found that the plane really didn’t try to go off on its own for landing. Even coming in fast, although it did float, it did slow nicely with the 40 degrees of flaps and I was able to stop within 1000ft with minimal braking. After approaching slower (about 60mph) I was able to get stopped in about 500ft with a nice 3-point landing. I tend to like 3 points in this plane since its very pitch sensitive and hard to finesse to avoid a bounce for a wheel landing.

Overall, I really enjoyed the turbo Maule M5. All of my Maule time has been solo, so I’m not sure quite how much performance would be lost with 4 people in it. But from what I’ve seen, it’s a solid, good performing airplane with an unnecessary under-whelming reputation. I’d be glad to fly one any day, and would feel pretty good on being able to match stock Super Cub performance in a lot of situations.

“What If I Don’t Want to Instruct to build time?”

“What If I Don’t Want to Instruct to build time?”

By Sarah Rovner, Master CFI / FAASTeam Lead Representative

“What if I don’t want to instruct?”

Those words, when uttered, generally bring on a slew of bitter old pilot responses on how new pilots should be “putting in their time.” After all, most of the pilots that have come before us in the past decade have only had instructing as an option as they attempted to build time in an industry where pilots were plenty and jobs were few. The aviation industry is on the rise, and we are at a time where expansion is outgrowing the pool of pilots available, bringing many opportunities for pilots of all experience levels.

If we think back to our training days, I’m sure we can all remember a distinct instance where we had an issue with an instructor. That issue could have ranged from poor communication, lack of ability, or complete disinterest in teaching. I have had many people reach out to me with these issues, and the students often change instructors. Not everyone is cut out to be an instructor, and in my opinion we shouldn’t force people to be an instructor I they don’t want to. It doesn’t do anybody any good to have an instructor who doesn’t care to be an instructor. Students, instructors, and the industry suffer as a whole when that happens.

People often ask me about whether or not they should pursue a CFI rating. Many university programs offer this even if the student doesn’t plan to instruct for the school upon graduation. My answer to this is yes, even if you don’t plan on teaching full time. When I was a new CFI, I had many opportunities to fly with plane owners to do BFRs, IPCs, and other occasional training events. I tagged along on Angel Flights, long cross countries, and was able to get experience flying in a variety of airplanes, many of which I could log PIC time as dual given because I had a flight instructor certificate. The networking opportunities were endless. I was introduced as the local CFI in EAA meetings, FAASTeam seminars, and other events. I never instructed full time, and yet I was able to gain opportunities just having the license and giving occasional dual in some amazing, rare airplanes that I would have never gotten to fly otherwise. Additionally, I was able to log just about every flight I took in the right seat because a CFI can log PIC while giving dual instruction, circumventing the rules regarding splitting flight time. Having the rating and being a Master CFI continues to make me more competitive for other jobs and sets me aside from my peers.

There are many opportunities in aviation in which many qualified pilots are applying for the same job. When you want to set yourself apart, the best way to do that is through differentiation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with instructing – it will give you a skillset and insight to flying that will make you a more knowledgeable pilot. However, the best way to differentiate yourself from your peers is to get involved in other aspects of the industry. Being a CFI can help you network and gain these opportunities.

I would never fault a pilot for declining to instruct when they don’t want to. I agree that we all have to do things we don’t want to in order to progress in our careers. But the last thing that aviation needs are instructors who don’t want to instruct as they do a horrible disservice to their students. My advice is to networking as much as you can, fly as many planes as you can, and volunteer your time as much as you can. These three things will take you farther in aviation than you would have ever thought of. And when the time comes, those things will make you stand out amongst your peers.

FullThrottle Aviation Scholarship Winners Announced

2017 is the first year of the scholarship program, and the winners have been selected. We would like to congratulate 3 outstanding individuals on this award and hope that the scholarship provides them a unique opportunity to expand their skillset and knowledge as a pilot on their way to a career in aviation.

Skills Enhancement Scholarship Winners (2)

Lisa Katzke Pic

Lisa Katze

Lisa began her aviation journey in late 2015 after a chance encounter with an airline pilot on the train during her evening commute. Her discovery flight reignited the fascination with aviation she’d had as a child, and she knew from the moment they leveled off that a career change was in her future. She achieved her private pilot certificate, instrument rating, and tailwheel endorsement in 2016 while balancing a full-time career.  She started her professional aviation career as a CFI this fall, transitioning from a 12-year career in retail inventory management. She is genuinely excited about everything she has to learn from teaching as well as the opportunities it will provide her to make a difference for her students. From that very first pilot to all of those who have since taken the time to offer their advice, experience, and sofas, Lisa has been consistently amazed and humbled by the spirit of mentorship and giving back that is pervasive in the aviation community. It is this spirit that she hopes to embody as she continues her growth as an aviator. With this scholarship opportunity provided by the generosity of FullThrottle Aviation, LLC, she will be starting her commercial multiengine rating, an important next step towards her ultimate goal of the airlines.


Elizabeth Keller

Elizabeth was born and raised in East Tennessee. She grew up and worked on her family farm and knew by the time she was twelve that she wanted to fly. Her college search included several reputable schools, but she made her decision when she was selected for Middle Tennessee State University’s highest academic award, The Buchanan Fellowship. She spent the summer after graduation earning her private pilot certificate, and by 20 years old, she had also earned her instrument, commercial, and CFI. She is currently a CFI at the University Flight school, and plans to use the scholarship to pursue her multi-engine rating.

Airline Training and Orientation Program (ATOP) Scholarship (1)

Nathan Dailing

Nathan Dailing

Nathan is an aspiring pilot from Wisconsin.  His father was an aircraft mechanic and introduced him to aviation at a young age. He prides himself on the fact that he has been to every EAA Airventure in Oshkosh since he was three years old.  When Nathan was 17 years old, he obtained his private pilot certificate and has continued to gain ratings, obtaining his flight instructor certificate as well. Nathan is currently building hours to pursue a career in the airlines. He will use the ATOP scholarship to further my education and diversify his to be an exceptional pilot candidate for the airlines.

Evacuating Small Planes from the Path of Hurricane Harvey

Evacuating Small Planes from the Path of Hurricane Harvey

As the owner of FullThrottle Aviation, an aircraft delivery company, I often get calls from people to move airplanes for various reasons. The incoming hurricane Harvey had residents concerned, but many people decided to stay in Houston due to the fact that the bulk of the storm is still nearly 150 miles southwest. On Thursday night, I started getting calls from people who hangar airplanes in areas that flood. They were looking for someone to fly the airplanes out to a safe place to leave them for the weekend. In fact, many airplane owner policies will actually cover the cost of relocation in the event of a major weather event. Considering my relationship with the airports in Waco, I figured that a temporary evacuation to Waco would be the best and most cost-effective solution for our customers. Therefore, I arranged with my other pilots to help fly the airplanes to Waco.

We all decided to take off from different airports and meet in Waco on Friday morning before the bands of rain made landfall in Houston. By 8am, the weather had already started deteriorating in the Houston area, with large stretches of rain drenching areas of Houston in a rapid circular motion. In fact, many of the airports in the area were reporting winds in dramatically different direction than their neighbors only 10 miles away. All 3 planes were able to take off uneventfully and fly VFR to Waco.

The FBO, Servion, at Waco TSTC graciously offered a low rate for storage for the airplane refugees. After tucking the planes away to their new temporary home, we got the crew car to go to Walmart. The stores in Houston had already been cleaned out. As of this morning, water cannot be found and the gas stations are shutting down after running out of water. I collaborated with some of my neighbors for supplies, so we made a supply run in Waco where people didn’t think the world was ending. After doing a weight & balance, we took all the supplies we could and headed back to Houston.

The interesting thing about hurricane weather is that it rapidly changes. As the bands pass over the location of the center of the storm shifts, you can end up with large dry areas in the midst of organized chaos. We were able to fly back to Houston VFR without ever encountering the type of bad weather we left from. Overall, it was a successful mission and we were able to get a few planes out of harm’s way as well as bring supplies back to Houston for others.


Airplane Review – AeroSport BushCat (Tailwheel)

Airplane Review – AeroSport BushCat (Tailwheel)

I have recently been encouraged to write reviews about the different airplanes I’ve flown, and after recently completing a BushCat ferry and having another one coming up, I figured I’d write a review about my experience with the airplane.

The BushCat that I flew was a certified light-sport airplane that is powered by the Rotax 912 engine and manufactured by Rainbow SkyReach (PTY) Ltd out of South Africa. Although they do offer the ELSA and build kit, the U.S. distributor in Illinois (AeroSport) does manufacture these airplanes as a certified LSA. When I first saw the airplane, my impression was that it was an ultralight. The wings are covered in zip up tent-like material similar to what I’ve seen on the Quicksilver Sprint. In order to inspect the inside of the wing, there are several places to zip down the material to get a good look inside, and it makes it much easier than by looking through inspection ports on a traditional fabric winged airplane. Additionally, the fuselage is also covered in this material and fueling the plane requires zipping up the back area of the fuselage to access the fuel tank that sits right behind the seats.

When getting my training and check out, I learned that there was a specific trick to getting in and out of the airplane and locking the doors, which can be a bit of a task. However, other similar bush-type airplanes are no different and even the beloved Super Cub requires a bit of balance to gracefully get in and out. Once you have figured out the system and finesse for getting in and out, it’s not too bad. Although the plane looks small and sits low, it’s very comfortable once you are inside. The plane is plenty wide and not very cramped with two people which can be a common problem with LSAs. The throttle quadrant rests on the arm rest, and after getting in and locking the doors, the armrest with the throttle comes down, giving your arm a place to rest.

The new tailwheel version weighs between 700-800 pounds, depending on options. This gives it quite a lot of performance. I was very surprised to see such a short ground roll with the airplane. BushCat lists a takeoff roll of about 500ft, and I was getting about that with just me and the fuel in the airplane. I was very surprised to see how well it performed with density altitudes above 8000ft. I’ve always been impressed by Rotax performance, but with such a light airplane I really couldn’t tell that I was at such a high density altitude.

The plane is both stable and sensitive at the same time. The brakes, by design, can take some getting used to. I found that putting my feet in a specific position on the rudder pedals/brakes fixed the problem of not being able to depress the brakes fully. Once you get used to the taxi portion, the flying isn’t much different than any other plane. The plane is very stable in the air and it’s easy to fly “hands off”. The plane really doesn’t need much trim but I did find myself having to hold some back pressure on landing with flaps, similar to a J3 Cub. For any existing tailwheel pilot, just a few takeoffs and landings will do the trick to get comfortable with the airplane. I would even recommend taxiing for a while to get used to the rudders and brakes. As with any light airplane, there can be tendency to over-control. Since we are looking at small control surfaces and low speeds, it’s best to avoid strong crosswinds (as with any LSA) and avoid over-controlling. For people without a tailwheel endorsement, I’d say the plane is very easy to fly and doesn’t try to get away on you unless you use improper technique. I did about 4 takeoffs and landings for my checkout and felt very good with the airplane in a variety of conditions. Experienced tailwheel pilots could probably get in it without a checkout, but due to the differences in the brakes and getting in and out it’s best to go over the plane with someone who has flown it before.

Overall I have a very positive impression of the BushCat. Although it has its quirks, there are not many new airplanes you can get for a little over $70,000 (list price). For the money, you are getting a solid performing airplane that is comfortable to fly. It has great performance even in high density altitudes and would be the perfect plane to go to a grass strip fly in with. The Rotax is a solid and proven engine that burns hardly any oil and will last a very long time if managed properly. If you are looking for a great 2 seat LSA for used airplane prices, a BushCat is the perfect solution.

For more information on the BushCat, visit the website: http://www.bushcatusa.com/

The U.S. Distributor: http://aerosportplanes.com/

New Scholarships and Internship Program Announced!

At FullThrottle Aviation, we believe that the entire aviation industry can benefit from investing in our next generation of pilots. That time period from 250 hours as a new commercial pilot to the next flying job can be difficult, and unfortunately there are people out there who are wanting pilots to pay for flight time. We believe that new low time commercial pilots can benefit from flying an array of different airplanes on long cross countries, and we are offering an internship program for this reason – free of charge!

See information below on both programs.

INTERNSHIP INFORMATION: We are already accepting applications for the internship program. We are limiting the internships to the number of current ferry pilots we have. Send an email with your resume, hours, and how you would benefit from the program to: education@fullthrottleaviationllc.com

SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION: We have also decided to give away 3 scholarships to help the next generation of pilots succeed.

In 2017 we are offering two (2) flight training scholarships at $1000 each, and one (1) ATOP course scholarship (valued at $495). The window for applications begins on April 1, 2017 and ends on August 15, 2017. Winners will be announced prior to September 30.

An overview of the programs is below and can also be found on the website under “Community Outreach”.



In 2017 we are offering two (2) flight training scholarships at $1000 each, and one (1) ATOP course scholarship (valued at $495). The window for applications begins on April 1, 2017 and ends on August 15, 2017.  Winners will be announced prior to September 30.

Scholarship Application Documents:

  • 500 word essay
  • Resume

On April 1, there will be an online form on this page that will allow you to copy and paste your resume and your 500 word essay.

This is the preferred method for submitting your application. If unable to use this feature, please email both the resume and essay to: education@fullthrottlaviationllc.com

After submission, essays and resumes will have the names redacted and current FullThrottle Aviation pilots will vote for the winners.

FullThrottle Aviation Skills Enhancement Flight Training Scholarship

The FullThrottle Aviation Skills Enhancement Flight Training Scholarship is for a commercial pilot who is looking to expand their skill set.

The scholarship can be used for any of the following. Funds will be paid directly to the individual or school offering the training:

  • New rating (such as multi engine or seaplane)
  • Advanced endorsement (tailwheel or high performance)
  • Checkout in a new type of aircraft (such as a Pitts or Stearman, but not limited to these)

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current commercial pilot with an instrument rating
  • Current 2nd or 1st class medical
  • Under 1500 hours Total Time


Airline Training Orientation Program (ATOP) Scholarship

ATOP has generously donated a course to be given away through the scholarship program.

The Airline Training Orientation Program (ATOP) was developed for pilots to get a an orientation to flying for the airlines. The 2 day course consists of a comprehensive tour of the pilot training center, 10 Hours of “Basic Indoc” Ground School, 2 Hours in the “Cockpit Management Trainer”, and 4 hours in the full motion (Level D) flight simulator. Scholarship recipients can pick between the Airbus in Orlando or the Boeing 737 in Dallas:

American Airlines Flight Academy • Dallas, TX • B-737 Training
JetBlue University • Orlando, FL • A-320 Training

The course value is $495. The scholarship recipient is responsible for all travel, lodging and meal expenses with taking the course. This scholarship only covers tuition. The optional “High Altitude” endorsement is also available for purchase. Get more information at: http://b737.com/

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current commercial pilot with an instrument rating
  • Current 2nd or 1st class medical
  • Under 1500 hours Total Time


FullThrottle Aviation Internship & Mentoring Program

We are now offering an internship program to introduce new pilots to ferry flying and a wide variety of interesting aircraft. After acceptance, the intern will be paired with a current FullThrottle Aviation ferry pilot who will be able to answer questions and provide career advice to the intern. If a ferry becomes available with an open seat, the interns will be notified of the dates, aircraft type, origin/destination, and ferry pilot name. If the intern is available, then they will coordinate coming along with the ferry pilot doing the trip. In many cases, the intern can expect to do some of the flying, as well as receive instruction if the ferry pilot is a CFI. This could mean getting an endorsement and time in a wide variety of different planes. This is not a paid internship. The intern will have all expenses covered (except travel) during the trip.

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current commercial pilot with an instrument rating
  • Current 2nd or 1st class medical
  • Under 500 hours Total Time

Program details:

  • Interns will be allowed to join a current FullThrottle Aviation ferry pilot on up to 100 hours of ferry flying.
  • The intern pilot will be responsible for their own transportation to the commercial airport at the origin and destination of the trip.
  • The intern pilot will have all their expenses paid for while traveling (accommodation, meals).
  • Intern pilots will be expected to share the accommodations as long as both the intern and FullThrottle ferry pilot agree.

How to apply:

  • Send an email describing why you want to be a part of the program and how it will benefit you in your career.
  • Attach a current resume.
  • You may be contacted for an interview.

Any questions about the program or applications should be sent to education@fullthrottleaviationllc.com

Road to Alaska – Super Viking Ferry

Road to Alaska – Super Viking Ferry

Our world is more beautiful than most people can imagine. Our earth is full of untouched natural beauty that can only be seen from the wing of a small airplane. Frontiers like Alaska are known for their scenery and the road to Alaska is no different. The Alaska Highway has been flown and driven by millions of people and the view is amazingly spectacular.

FullThrottle Aviation was contacted by a customer who wanted to move a Super Viking from a restoration shop in Pensacola, Florida to its new owner in Anchorage, Alaska. The buyer requested to join along for the flight in order to gain experience and get his insurance mandated checkout in the airplane. We both flew in to Pensacola to begin the journey. We flew across the country uneventfully until we reached Wyoming. It was deep in the heart of summertime which means there are many thunderstorms developing across the Midwest and high plains areas of Wyoming. We barely made it into Gillette while a massive thunderstorm approached the airport. The next day the weather was too low for VFR and we filed IFR and flew into Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to clear customs on our way toward the Alaska Highway.

Most people who ferry airplanes internationally are familiar with the different route options to Alaska. The weather is rarely good enough for VFR on the coast route which was along the western side of the northern Rockies. Therefore most people elect to take the Alaska Highway route because it generally has the best weather and it is also the most populated route to Alaska. In an emergency pilots can even use the highway as an emergency landing area. The Alaska Highway takes pilots and drivers through British Columbia, the Yukon and then on into Alaska.

After clearing customs in Lethbridge, we flew to the main Edmonton airport for fuel and lunch. After looking at the weather further north it became apparent that there would be significant delays to reach Alaska. It’s often hard to find a good weather window with enough time to take a single engine airplane through in one shot. The buyer decided to get on a commercial flight back to Anchorage to ensure he was back in time for work, and I continued the journey solo. The next overnight was in Fort Nelson which is along the highway in the northern part of Alberta. The view was amazing while crossing the foothills of the northern Rockies and seeing some of the tallest trees that I’ve ever seen. The night before my arrival, the northern lights had been some of the strongest and brightest ever seen. I woke up several times in the middle of the night hoping to see them but clouds moved in and covered the view.

The next day I pushed through the Northern Rockies and into Alaska. The weather can be very predictable in the mountains and even in summer the freezing level is too low to go IFR in an airplane that doesn’t have icing protection. At one point, I almost had to do a box canyon turn because of unanticipated low visibility in the passes bordering the Yukon territory. Northern British Columbia and the Yukon do not have many weather reporting points and there are no webcams like in Alaska. When you fly through these areas, you are mostly on your own. It’s an entirely different kind of flying than most pilots are used to in the lower states. Knowing weather patterns and trends is crucial to flying in these areas and it’s necessary to have a mental backup plan for if the weather goes bad. I made it into Whitehorse, Yukon for fuel which is the last fuel stop before the leg to Northway, Alaska. Most pilots use Northway to clear customs since it is very convenient and quick. However, Northway doesn’t have fuel, an FBO, or even cell service. This tiny airport only has customs and a flight service station located on the field. The flight service station employee actually lived at the station. While I was there, I saw kids on 4 wheelers rolling around with rifles on the way to go hunting. Northway is a flashback to what it was like 50 years ago. It’s a great little airport and it has great people but there is nothing else there! It had been a long day for me since I got to Northway, and I decided that the weather was too tough and I was too tired to push on to Anchorage. I decided to stop in a little town called Tok which is also often frequented by bush pilots and transient pilots taking small planes to and from Alaska.

There is not much more than Northway in the little town of Tok. The FBO also serves as a bush flying operation. Across the street there is Fast Eddy’s restaurant which is just about the only restaurant in town and the only one within walking distance of Tok. I stayed in Toke for 2 nights while waiting for the weather to clear into Anchorage. I would look hourly at the FAA webcam of the Mentasta pass which was blocking the path from Tok to Merrill field in Anchorage. By going to the FAA’s website, you can look at the webcams for many different passes in Alaska. The webcams are the primary source of flight planning of Alaska’s VFR general aviation. It took 2 days for the pass to clear, and after receiving and early morning text message from a friend that the pass was open, I grabbed my gear and took off as soon as possible.

The views from Tok to Anchorage were equally as amazing. You could see the glaciers everywhere and the ground was green as can be from all the summer rain and sunlight. Alaska is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and it was a real blessing to be able to enjoy it from the wing of a small airplane. I made it safely into Merrill field where the customer was waiting to greet me. It was a beautiful plane and arguably the nicest Super Viking in Alaska. The customer was kind enough to let me stay with him an few days so I could also explore Alaska. In the following days, I went to Talkeetna to take the bush flying and seaplane course and enjoyed some of the best seafood in the world.

My aircraft ferrying adventures have afforded me experiences that most people can only dream about. The scenery was amazing on this journey and pictures barely do it justice. Alaska brings a whole different kind of flying into the mix. Without the technology and tools of the lower states, pilots have to rely on judgement, skill, and planning. After this journey, I found a new respect for bush pilots flying in America’s last frontier. I hope to again fly the Alaska Highway and enjoy the best views in the world!