Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

Month: December 2016

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!