Year: 2016 (page 1 of 5)

047 – Airplane Owners Beware of Nosegear Damage Caused by Towing Equipment!

As an airplane owner, do you have your airplane moved around the airport by ground personnel, using power tug equipment?

If so, make sure it’s being done properly, safely, and competently.

And after listening to today’s episode, you may find yourself wanting to avoid power tugs on your airplane as much as possible.

After all, nosegear parts can be broken in a heartbeat if the steering limits are exceeded while towing your airplane.

Consider the nosegear on this Piper Archer that arrived at our airport awhile back:









Even an amateur detective could figure this one out.  The nosegear was turned past the steering stop (probably with some type of airplane tug,) and it broke the steering arm right off.  This piece is made of steel and is quite strong, so it took A LOT of force to do this!  Oops!

Moving airplanes around on the ground requires careful attention!

Whenever possible, have your airplane moved using a simple hand operated tow bar, and you can avoid what happened to this Piper Archer, and so many other airplanes.

Listen to today’s episode to hear some other stories about other airplanes… this is something that happens too frequently.

Check out this article about a gear up landing, probably due to nosegear damage by ground personnel:

So, here are a few recommendations for protecting your airplane’s nosegear:

  1.  Avoid the use of tractor-type tugs and golf cart type tugs, whenever possible.  It’s so easy to exceed the tow limits with these.

       2.  If you need to have your airplane moved with a tug, inspect the nosegear and steering system as thoroughly as possible before flying.

       3.  Also, after your airplane has been moved with a tug, check the operation of the steering system thoroughly… make sure it responds and turns well both directions, and there are no unusual noises.  We had an airplane in our shop the other day, that was recently purchased, and it was missing some steering hardware… oops!  Apparently, there had been some difficulty turning the airplane in one direction… no kidding!

       4.  Confirm that any required or optional steering limit placards are installed.  If they are unreadable, get new ones!

       5.  Remember, for retractable landing gear airplanes, the steering system is very much connected with the landing gear retraction system, so a problem with the steering system can cause a problem with gear retraction.  Make sure they are both in good working order.

Thanks for joining me today.

Happy New Year everyone!



046 – A Simple Alternator Inspection and a Christmas Greeting!









Electrical power… you need it in your airplane, especially for night flying and for IFR.

In light of this, you want to avoid surprise electrical problems, if at all possible.

So here is one simple inspection that you, as an airplane owner, can do yourself, to help verify that your alternator will perform reliably when you need it most.

Listen to today’s episode, and do this simple test, as shown in the following video:

If you see this condition on ANY of your alternator terminals, get it fixed ASAP!


Also for today, I want to wish all of you a merry Christmas!  My good friend Brian Holmes, released this video this week on his website at and since he did such a fantastic job, I thought I would share it with all of you.  This is totally worth 17 minutes of your time!

045 – An Unlikely Oil Leak on a Cirrus SR-22




This is not the actual airplane that had the oil leak,

but it was similar to this one.




Oil leaks.

They’re aggravating.

They’re frustrating.

And sometimes, they’re hard to figure out.

But as an airplane owner, you will probably deal with an oil leak at some point in your flying career.

So it’s good to be prepared, and to know what to look for.

And sometimes, to be prepared to notice something out-of-the-ordinary.

Which brings us to today’s episode, and an oil leak situation I’d like to share with you… and hopefully, it will make you more prepared the next time you need to figure out where your oil leak is coming from.

Listen to today’s episode to hear the story of an oil leak that caused a Cirrus pilot’s wife to ask, “What’s that mud on the tail?” after they landed at our airport recently.

It turns out the “mud” was a serious oil leak… and I bet you would not guess where it was coming from.

Here are a couple pictures… take a look and see what you think.

This is a rare place for an oil leak, but it does happen occasionally.

Can you figure out what happened by the pictures?  If not, listen to today’s episode.








Thank you Dustin Cluff, and Ashley Blythe, for leaving a rating and review in iTunes… I appreciate that so much!

And, if others of you could leave a rating and review in iTunes, I would be so grateful!  Also, if you leave your real name in the text of your review, I will be happy to give you a shout out, and recognize you in a future episode.  You can also leave a website you would like other airplane owners to know about, it you like.





044 – The Value of the People Who Are Connected to the Airplanes


Thanks to all of you who have contacted me in some way recently.

Aviation is great, and airplanes are great.

But without the PEOPLE, there really wouldn’t be much to it.

I am grateful for all the fascinating people I’ve had the privilege of meeting, because of aviation, and podcasting.

Here are a few of them:

Cliff Ravenscraft:  The Podcast Answerman.  (

If YOU want to learn how to produce a podcast, Cliff can help with his excellent training.

Check it out at

The next course begins January 2, 2017.

AND, if you use the code, “Dean” (not case sensitive,) you can get a significant discount.

Kevin:  He left me a voice message and asked about a resource for how to deal with AD research.  Thanks Kevin!

Bret Chilcott:  He left me a voice message, and gave me permission to use it in the podcast… thanks Bret!  Check out his website at  Very fascinating way to monitor the health of large crop fields with drone technology!

Don Sebastian:  “The Prebuy Guy”

Don has been in aviation for about 60 years!  He’s like a walking aviation encyclopedia!

Don has been on many podcasts, including Episode 82 of the Aviatorcast podcast with Chris Palmer.

Don also left me a voice message and gave permission to use it in the podcast… thanks!

If you want to hire Don for a prebuy airplane inspection, you can contact him at  Please let him know you heard about him from Dean on the Airplane Owner Maintenance podcast.  Thanks!

Brian Holmes:

I learned about Brian through podcasting, because he has the Strategic Leader Podcast.  He’s also crazy about airplanes, and loves aviation!  I HIGHLY recommend Brian’s podcast and resources, and you  can find everything at

Here’s Brian flying a Citation CJ3 at 41,000!








So… as an airplane owner, would YOU be interested in a simple, easy to understand, training course about AD research, and how to keep up with what’s required for your airplane?  If so, PLEASE contact me and let me know…  you can leave a voice message at or shoot me an email at

AND, if you’ve never left a rating and review in iTunes for this podcast, I would surely appreciate that if you could do it.

Thanks everyone!



043 – I Selected “Gear Down,” and Nothing Happened.

I had an opportunity to fly this C-172RG the other day, and something out of the ordinary happened.  I’m sure you’ve guessed it, by the title of today’s episode.  To find out how it all turned out, listen to today’s podcast.



The area that ended up needing attention was a wiring plug behind that right side cowling near the firewall.  The plug was for the nosegear squat switch wiring and it had a poor connection.  After tightening up the connections in that plug and applying some Corrosion-X, everything worked fine after that.

It was a reminder that one little electrical connection can make all the difference in the world.


After this experience, I thought of a few items that might be good for us to consider, any time we are flying a retractable gear airplane:

  1.  Review the landing gear emergency procedures in the flight manual or POH.  It’s really important to be very familiar with these procedures… if the gear does not come down, it’s usually a surprise, and that’s a bad time to get familiar with an emergency procedure… it’s much better to be prepared in advance.
  2. Practice these emergency gear procedures in flight, if possible.  This may not be practical with all airplanes, but for many, it is.  And it’s good to know how it all works in real life, than just to read about it in the POH.
  3. Be sure the emergency gear extension placards are in place and readable.  (Confirm the required placards at the end of the Limitations chapter in the flight manual or POH.
  4. After that, if you have any remaining questions, sit down with a mechanic or another pilot and learn more about how the landing gear system works, including any emergency procedures.
  5. And one last tip for Cessna single engine retractable gear airplanes:  Buy the mirror panel that replaces one of the wing inspection panels.  Then, you can have a visual confirmation that all 3 gear are really down… this is especially important since many of these airplanes only have one green, gear down light.

Retractable gear airplanes are fascinating machines, and if the landing gear systems are well-maintained and adjusted properly, they are quite reliable.

But, it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected!

Thanks everyone!

P.S.  I sure would appreciate if you could leave a rating and review in iTunes for the podcast… just go to the iTunes store, and search for either “Airplane Owner Maintenance,” or “Dean Showalter,” then click on the podcast picture, then click on ratings and reviews.  You can leave a star rating, and also write a review… if you leave your real name and any other information, like a website, I will most likely give you a shout out at some point in a future episode.  Thanks so much!





042 – If the Reservoir is Empty, There’s Probably a Good Explanation!

I recently did an annual inspection on a Mooney M20J, and when I checked the brake fluid level, the reservoir was empty.









In this airplane, the brake fluid reservoir is inside a panel on the left side of the airplane, behind the left wing.









When I did the inspection, I noticed the parking brake valve had a little fluid on it, but it did not seem to be leaking enough to account for an empty fluid reservoir.  So I filled the reservoir and continued on with the inspection and repairs.

But when I was ready to reinstall the belly panel, I had this feeling that maybe I should double check that parking brake valve.  So I applied the brakes and set the parking brake.  And within a short amount of time, there was a significant puddle on the floor under the airplane.img_4399







So, I had to remove the parking brake valve, put some new o-ring seals in it, and reinstall it.  After that, the system worked fine without any leaks.img_4397







This scenario reminded me of some other times where I’ve had brake fluid leaks, and what the problem turned out to be.  Listen to this podcast episode to hear about those stories.

Bottom line:  If your brake fluid reservoir is empty, or much lower than normal, it might be time to dig a little deeper to try to find any leaks that might be happening.  After all, you don’t want to be surprised with having no brakes available at just the wrong time!

So, I’d recommend that you check your brake fluid yourself occasionally throughout the year… get some help if you need it… don’t be caught with an empty brake reservoir!

Thank you for listening to Airplane Owner Maintenance!  If you have not left a rating and review for the podcast, please go to iTunes and do that… I would be so grateful!

And speaking of being grateful, I hope you’ve had some time to think about the things you are grateful for, this Thanksgiving Season.

For me, I’m first of all grateful to God… and specifically as it relates to this episode, I’m grateful for the times he prompts me to think about things that need attention, like this parking brake valve… things I might otherwise overlook… after all, I was just about ready to put that belly panel back on…

And secondly, I’m grateful for all of you… you who listen to the podcast, and especially those of you who have contacted me and shared your thoughts with me.  I always love to hear what’s going on out there in the world of General Aviation, especially the PEOPLE who fly and work on the airplanes!

So Happy Thanksgiving, my aviation friends!


041 – What in the World is an Airworthiness Limitation?



Any idea what that red switch is?  This airplane is a Diamond DA-40 with a Garmin G-1000 system.  The red switch is for activating the emergency battery power for the attitude indicator to the right of the airspeed indicator.







The battery pack is mounted behind the copilot’s instrument panel, and it must be changed every 2 years, as required by an “Airworthiness Limitation” in the DA-40 maintenance manual.  This is not optional, but mandatory.




So, what is an “Airworthiness Limitation?”

It is an FAA approved requirement for maintaining the airworthiness of an airplane.

Check out this website to see some good information regarding recommended vs. mandatory:

91.403(c) No person may operate an aircraft for which a manufacturer’s maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness has been issued that contains an Airworthiness Limitations section unless the mandatory replacement times, inspection intervals, and related procedures specified in that section … have been complied with.

Some other items on this Diamond DA-40 that are affected by “Airworthiness Limitations” are:

Garmin G1000 system as installed in the DA-40:  Mandatory replacement of the 5 slow blow fuses in the system, as well as some other specific checks of the flap and autopilot system.

Powerflow Exhaust System:  Mandatory lubrication of the slip joints every year, which requires removal of the exhaust system.

AmSafe Inflatable Seatbelts:  Mandatory system checks, and replacement of the inflators and the EMA (Electronic Module Assembly.)

These previous 3 items are not in the Chapter 4 Airworthiness Limitations section of the Diamond Maintenance manual.  But rather, they are in the specific ICA documents for these components.

So, this is one example of how important it is to be familiar with the ICA’s for the modifications in your airplane.

How about your airplane?  Are all the “Airworthiness Limitations” being complied with?

Listen to today’s episode for more information.

Hey, one more thing… If you haven’t left a rating and review in iTunes for this podcast, could you take a minute and do that?  I would be so grateful!


040 – What Un-Noticed Issue Might be Lurking in YOUR Airplane?

Hey, check out this conference… It’s called the “Live It Forward ADVANCE” conference, with Kent Julian.  (He has one of the most inspiring new podcasts that I’ve found recently.

I’m planning to be there (in Duluth, Georgia,) in 2 weeks, November 10, 11, and 12.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I would love to see you there… and I think you would find it valuable.

Do you want to get your instrument rating?  Commercial pilot certificate?  Maybe a better airplane?  Or something else?  Whatever it is that you’ve been “dreaming” about doing, that you want to actually put into action… this conference is all about helping us to do that.

Check it out here:

I figured if even one or two listeners of the “Airplane Owner Maintenance” podcast came to the conference, that would be really great.

AND, one of the speakers at the conference is Brian Holmes, someone that I also respect a lot, and he is a pilot who loves to talk about airplanes and aviation!  He also has a fantastic podcast called “The Strategic Leader” podcast.  

So… listen to today’s episode, go to, and check out the conference, and register, with the discount code “JILL” (all caps,) and you can get $50 off the conference price.

AND… listen to today’s episode for another offer I gave for connecting with me personally at that conference.

Thanks for considering this… If you decide to come, I am quite sure you will not be disappointed!


And now for the “Airplane Maintenance” portion of today’s episode:










Yep… those are twisted control cables.

And, nope… they should not be that way.

I found this during an annual inspection this past week on a Cessna P210, under the baggage compartment floor.

And earlier this year, I found a frayed aileron control cable on a Cessna 414, but it was not by seeing it at first.  The first thing I noticed was a strange noise when I moved the left aileron up and down.

Check out this video:

That noise prompted me to look inside the wing and eventually find the frayed cable where it was rubbing across the fairlead.










So, here are a few of my recommendations for today (some of which I’ve probably covered before in previous episodes, but are worth repeating:)

  1.  Take your airplane to a different inspector occasionally!  I’m not trying to point a finger at anyone… these two airplanes, with the twisted control cables, and the frayed cable, had been last inspected by reputable shops and inspectors.  I’m just saying the more inspector eyes you can get on your airplane, within reason, the better.
  2. Consider doing an owner-assisted annual inspection.

  3. Be inquisitive… open some extra panels that perhaps have not been opened in a long time.

  4. Use your eyes, AND ears, for inspecting, and noticing, issues.

And if you do these things, hopefully it will help you to avoid having a maintenance issue lurking un-noticed, in your airplane. 

Thanks for listening today, and remember, if you register for the Live It Forward ADVANCE conference, you can get a discount by using the code JILL when you check out.  You can register here:

Have a great week!

039 – You Can’t Always Believe an “Idiot-Light”

Warning and indicator lights on an airplane instrument panel… they give a lot of useful information when they’re interpreted correctly.

When everything is working properly, an “Idiot Light” can tell you when a system has failed.

According to Google, an “Idiot Light” is, “A warning light that goes on when a fault occurs in a device, especially a light on the instrument panel of a motor vehicle.”

This is a pretty good definition, as long as everything else is functioning normally.

But be careful, because sometimes these warning lights can “lie” to you!

Recently, I did an engine runup in a Piper Apache with a Plane Power alternator system installed.  It had these “alternator inop” lights at the top of the instrument panel.



During the runup, these lights turned off, and it appeared that both alternators were functioning normally.





However, I found something during the inspection, on the right alternator, that showed otherwise.



The alternator output wire was completely disconnected from the ring terminal on the alternator.





So, if I had turned the left alternator off during the runup, I would have discovered that the right alternator was not showing any positive amperage indication on the amp gauge.









So… you can’t always believe the alternator inop light… it must be verified with other available information.

Listen to today’s episode for more on this, and some recommendations for how you can better interpret the lights and information available to you on your airplane’s instrument panel.

And Please, if you’re able, I would really appreciate you leaving a rating and review on iTunes for the podcast… and if you do, I will try to thank you in a future episode.

Thanks in advance!

038 – What Does My Airplane’s Ignition Switch Look Like Inside, and Why Should I Care?

As a pilot, this is the part of the ignition switch you’re used to seeing… the part where you put the key in when you start the engine.  It’s also the part you use to do your mag checks.  Beyond that, it’s “Out of sight, out of mind,” when it comes to ignition switches.









But what exactly is behind that panel where the ignition switch is mounted?

That’s a good question, a valid question, and a question worth digging into.

Most small airplane ignition switches are Bendix / TCM switches, or ACS / Gerdes switches.

Both of these types are affected by a recurring Airworthiness Directive.

The first is AD 76-07-12 – This one applies to certain Bendix ignition switches.

You can read it here if you like:

The other main AD for ignition switches is 93-05-06, (for ACS / Gerdes switches,) and is available here:

Interestingly, both of these AD’s only apply to switches that have a “start” function.  However, in my opinion, any rotating type ignition switch should be checked regularly to make sure it is functioning properly, and not causing a hot mag when it’s in the “OFF” position.

Now back to those AD’s, there is a reason why the switches with a start position have a special tendency for having problems.

It’s because of what can happen when the starter switch is released.

Listen to this week’s episode and find out what happens, that over a long period of time, can cause this inside your ignition switch:











Notice the black deposits and severely worn contacts, as a result of electrical arcing.

If you want to get geaky and read a great article about ignition switches, here is a great article from the April 2011 issue of Light Plane Maintenance:

Very educational, I must say!

Thanks for listening, and if you like the show, please leave a rating and review on iTunes… I would appreciate it!

Older posts