Ray Hecker

"All That Glitters" - The Importance of a Thorough Pre-Flight & Pre-Buy Inspection

TOPIC:  Safe pre-flight pilot preparation, regulatory compliance and the importance of a thorough pre-flight inspection for both standard and experimental airworthiness certificated airplanes.

DESCRIPTION:  Ray Hecker, AE and Roland Koluvek, A&P present their inspection and corrective actions required associated with the Pre-Purchase Inspection (Pre-Buy) and Annual Condition Inspection of a popular plans/kit built experimental airplane, a Sequoia Falco F.8L. The example airplane was the Plans Built Grand Champion Homebuilt at Sun 'n Fun ‘91 and was featured on the EAA’s “Sport Aviation” Magazine September 1991 cover.

This insightful presentation includes the review of regulations (14 CFR Part 3, 14 CFR Part 43, 14 CFR Part 91), Advisory Circulars (AC 43.13-1B, and AC 43.13-2B), Special Airworthiness Bulletins (SAB), Service Instructions (SI) and required 500 Hour inspections associated with the pre-flight and inspection efforts it took to bring this airplane into airworthy condition, including a new weight and balance. The Pre-Purchase Inspection included 33 discrepancies from the recommended Falco 1st Flight Inspection Checklist including compliance with three (3) Airworthiness Directives.


Presented Nov. 3, 2015

The intersection of Enthusiasm, Technology and People – “It’s All Good”

By Ray Hecker, AE, CFII, MEI - - October, 2015

Captain Jay Galpin, ATP, United Air Lines / EAA 11855274, is the proud new owner of Falco N1001A, a
Charles “Skip” Gutzman masterpiece. This airplane and new-owner story started over one-year ago and
continues today. The culmination of owning a classic “Ferrari of the Air”, or a “flying convertible”, as I
recently explained to an automotive enthusiast at a car show in Winslow, AZ, is amazing to all involved.

Whether you are into building, maintaining or owning a Stelio Frati designed F.8L Falco, the experience
is enlightening and always enjoyable. You just can’t help loving this Italian classic. The Falco is a
“Witchy Woman” of sorts; she is intriguing, agile, seductive and breath-teasingly sexy with beautiful
lines and very well harmonized handling. Paint this airplane in the classic Falco “San Marino” scheme
with the red of Italian international racing “Rosso Corsa” (“racing red”) and white trim and you become
as limp as melted butter as an owner/operator – even ATC Control Tower Operators agree! I believe
that is what has happened and continues to happen to Jay and me too! Of course, you’ll always want to
treat this fine mechanical-lady with respect; you will instantly feel the wrath of her lovingly sharp pussycat
claws, as a result of your less than stellar airmanship. Maybe that is why we all love the Falco so
much. She is a pilot’s airplane!

As the story goes, an ex-military jet-jock fighter pilot with some piston driven time was looking for his
next adventure after the airlines. Having a flair for high adventure and motor car racing, the natural
progression was to look for a high performance aerobatic airplane to have fun with after 12 hours of
boring through the skies in a high flying highly automated passenger tube spam-can. So off to review
the Trade-A-Plane listings - - - -  TO VIEW THE COMPLETE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE

"Using ForeFlight PRO & SV as a Transition Training Tool"


Ray Hecker – AE / CFII, MEI, AGI & IGI / FAA Safety Team Representative / EAA Flight Advisor


Ray holds an Aeronautical Engineering (AE) degree from the University of Illinois and has over 5,500 hours of instruction given, including 2,950 hours of flight instruction given in airplanes.  He is a Past President of EAA Chapter 92 and an active Flight Advisor and Aviation Safety Counselor.  Ray’s FAA ratings include: COM – Instrument: ASEL/ASEL/AMEL with Flight Instructor as CFII (ASEL, ASES) and MEI as well as Advanced Ground (AGI) and Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI) ratings. 

Ray is currently in transition training to attain his COM G (glider/sailplane) and is also working toward his CFI-G.  Ray has flown over 65 make and models of airplanes and gliders and has continuously flown in our SoCal airspace (SNA, CNO, AJO) for over 30 years; as a NAFI (National Association of Flight Instructors) member.  He has been exercising his Flight Instructor ratings for over 22 years.

Ray owns and operates a Sequoia Aircraft Falco F.8L, he affectionately code named “Sophia” - the predecessor to the SIAI Marchetti SF-260 light attack aircraft, for nearly ten (10) years and specializes in transition training and currency in experiment airplanes – including all TAA/glass panel cockpits and “pocket rockets”.  In his spare time, Ray maintains the Falco and occasionally flies RC airplanes and gliders.  Ray also has high-altitude and tail-wheel endorsements and puts the tail-wheel training to good use in a pristine 1941 Piper J-3 Cub.

Presentation Overview:           CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL PRESENTATION

Presented on March 3, 2015

The ubiquitous Apple iPad and its derivatives along with the Apple iPhone/iPad Operating System (iOS) have been the biggest boon to the computer industry since the advent of the IBM PC and the Microsoft Disc Operating System (DOS) of the 1980s.  More Apps have been written for the iPhone/iPad than any other similar platform (Android). 

With the flexibility of touch-screen and rubber-band navigation, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces, and the NACO’s (US Government’s National Aviation Charting Office) desire to eliminate the burden of printing paper charts, we have a technology intersection that is prefect for applications such as Adobe PDF, ASOS/AWOS reporting, SkyVector, Flight Aware, ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, Synthetic Vision (SV), Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSF), Google Maps and a host of others.  With the FAA’s ADS-B Out mandate on the books for full implementation on 01 JAN 2020, we now have personal palm-computer hardware and driver software to put entire libraries of aeronautical information at our ready disposal.  No more excuses for not obtaining a proper and thorough briefing (VFR or IFR).

Low cost WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) GPS chips and remarkably fast computer processing speeds with optimization algorithms have put more computer processing capability literally in the palm of our hand than NASA’s first space missions.  “Affordable” glass-panel displays (computers) have put state-of-the-art technology in the cockpit of even light-sport airplanes thanks to Dynon, Grand Rapids Technology (GRT), Garmin, Bendix-King/Honeywell and many more.

With the initial acquisition and eventual overhauling costs of traditional analog “steam gauge” instrumentation approaching $3,000 + per gyro, many homebuilders (E-AB) are opting for low cost and reliable glass-panel technology.  A Dynon SkyView D1000 (10” display), full instrumentation and radio stack can be acquired in the ballpark of $10 - $12 K for single panel display and under $20 K for dual panel redundancy.  You don’t have to worry about “gyro precession” with solid-state electronics and accelerometers.  Want to change your view of certain instrumentation and moving maps with a full panel horizon? – hit a “select button” and configure the screen(s) to meet your needs.

The FAA has also accepted EFBs (Electronic Flight Bags) as approved “charting” alternatives, provided key Advisory Circulars (ACs) are consulted and you are in compliance.  This presentation touches on those AC and what it takes to go “paperless”, or for all practical and prudent operations “mostly paperless”. 

Ray also discusses his decision to go “mostly paperless” with a recap of a “before in-cockpit EFB” long cross-country flight from Chino, CA (KCNO) to Cody, WY (KCOD) and back in September, 2014.  After all it was an IFR flight, which consisted of a two (2) segment IFR Flight Plan (hop) and of course flying Interstates 15 and 80 to Rock Springs, WY (OCS) and then north to Cody.   With a Jeppesen subscription for the SW-USA pared down for the flight and all of the AFD and VFR Sectional and Terminal Charts along the route, Ray’s paper chart flight bag weighed in at about 25 lbs, plus the regular flight equipment such as flashlights, Tx/Rx (Transceiver) handheld and headsets.

While tools like ForeFlight, SkyVector, 100LL, Any AWOS, Lockheed-Martin’s AFSS, DUAT/DUATS, FAA/NACO and many others have been around to get us through the pre-flight operations stage, we have a lot of independent homework to do.  ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot, the current industry leaders for piston GA, have migrated into the cockpit.  There are some tricks and traps when using them in “paperless” flight mode. These caveats are discussed in the presentation.

These electronic tools, now with SV added, help us with orientation to all glass-cockpit panels such as Avidyne, Dynon, GRT, Garmin, etc.  The glass-panel instrument tape presentations are standardized and you can usually work yourself around one system to another after a thorough orientation program.  So, with all of this technology comes homework and lots of it.  Getting used to an iPad takes as much time as getting used to a new high-tech glass panel display.  While these apps can give you the near complete world of aeronautical information, it can be over whelming and just plain dangerous if you are not on top of your game in understanding your information system and how to rapidly obtain the content/display you need while maintaining your visual scan for traffic (VFR) and your panel (IFR).  Flying with a safety-pilot while you become thoroughly acquainted with your “new technology beast” is highly recommended.

The topics covered in the presentation are:

·         Electronic Flight Bags (EFB)

·         FAA Advisory Circulars for EFB

·         Electronic Charts & Back-up

·         Synthetic Vision and HUD Display formats

·         Flight Planning (IFR and VFR)

·         ForeFlight Mobile App, Dynon SkyView Glass Cockpit and Garmin GTN 750

·         Tricks and Traps

·        Q & A Session

If you are up for the challenge and the opportunity to use the latest information technology, or want to learn more about EFBs and real-world flying, this is a presentation you don’t want to miss.  ForeFlight PRO + SV and the STRATUS II ADS-B In, with AHRS displayed on the iPad Mini Retina Screen and battery autonomy time management are discussed.  If you have a current ForeFlight subscription on an iPad, bring it along to add to the discussion.

We hope to see you at EAA Chapter 92’s FAA WINGS Safety Program on March 3, 2015, Irvine, CA USA.


Presented on March 3, 2015



“The ultimate plans-built airplane from sticks.  First Flight Test of the TAA Sequoia Aircraft, Falco F.8L N457TC”

Ray Hecker presents taking plans building and flying to the next level; a presentation on the design, build and first test flight video of the Stelio Frati Falco F.8L, a “Ferrari of the Air”.

The Falco F.8L is an elegant all wood airplane design from the mid 1950’s that was developed into the Finmeccanica (SIAI-Marchetti) SF-260.  The 8th design of noted Italian Aeronautical Engineer, Dr. Stelio Frati, Ing., the Falco was originally designed to compete in FAI class racing.  The design is well suited as a “sportsman’s touring” airplane and won Frati the coveted Italian “Compasso de Oro” (Golden Compass) award for Italian industrial design in 1960.  When introduced, the Falco was identified in the press as “The Ferrari of the Air”.  The design is timeless and one of the most esthetically pleasing airplanes to see and fly.

The First Flight Test of a “plans built/scratch build”, 13-year build project, with TAA (Technically Advanced Aircraft/Avionics) is the focus of Ray’s presentation.  “7TC” has a Grand Rapids Technologies (GRT) TAA glass panel, EEIS and AOA.  It is powered by a builder/owner designed electrical system. The engine is a Barrett Precision Engines (BPE) “Lycoming” 360X series built as an “IO-360-B1E”.  The power output of this engine was dyno’d in the 215 HP range. The airplane is equipped with a Hartzell constant speed propeller.

Learn about the preparation for the First Flight Test with an all TAA glass panel and the last minute difficulties that had to be overcome to conduct the first hours of flying.  Ray will review the test flight program and the FAA Advisory Circular for experimental aircraft.  The first flight was video recorded so you can get a FPV look at the flight operation. The Q & A session will compare the GRT avionics to the Dynon SkyView Synthetic Vision product, which are very popular today.



Presented May 6, 2014


In tribute to our Veterans and especially those in the USAAF during WWII, Ray Hecker, CFII, MEI, FAA Safety Team Representative and Past-President of the 381st BG (H) Memorial Association (B-17) presents two related flight planning and flying mission programs.


All of us can take a cue from military flight operations.  While we have a choice to fly, the military does not; its mission is to defeat our enemies and protect our American way of life.

The first part of this WINGS program is about our GA/civilian flight operations and planning we should conduct for each flight. 


The second presentation is a historical tribute.  During WWII, with the deadline date for “Operation Overload” closing in, June, 1944 Invasion of Western Europe aka D-Day Invasion, the USAAF 8th and 9th Air Forces were behind schedule; a bold plan, Operation Argument – a maximum effort, was required.  This presentation is about the organizational changes (USSTAF Air Forces Europe), planning and 6-day operations to attain the beginning of “Air Superiority” over Germany


Presented November 5, 2013

“Flying By the Numbers”

Our EAA Chapter 92 speaker for March 2009 is Captain Bill Moyle.  Bill is a 13,000+ hour multiengine turbine pilot flying Boeing 727 series and Douglas DC-8 series airplanes during his airline career.  Bill also has couple of credentials of interest to the topic including: Citation Program Manager at Flight Safety International’s Long Beach, CA facility and FAA Safety Team (FAAST) Representative.  Bill is great at turning  wrenches on airplanes, via his experience courtesy of the USAF in Vietnam. 

Bill’s topic is timely.  We are coming into good flying weather and some of us are working on eliminating the rust from our winter hibernation from flying.  We have all heard the great debate; stick/yoke managing airspeed vs. altitude.  This debate has gone on since the third pilot came on the scene flying an airplane.  The first two pilots Orville and Wilbur Wright were in complete agreement on how to fly an airplane.  

The Bishop’s Boys knew they were power constrained (12 hp was considered high performance in 1903-1904) and at the limit of their power.  Back at Dayton, OH trying to fly the next summer (1904), the rebuilt 1903 “Flyer” even refused to lift off for them. This was the first practical encounter with what we call density-altitude today.  The flying field in Dayton (now Wright-Patterson AFB) is just over 800’ MSL.  The Wrights found out empirically, the Flyer had a service ceiling of less than 800’ PA.  If anyone knew about the concept of “Attitude + Power = Performance” it was the Wright Brothers.  They just didn’t have it “packaged” in a simple formula, like we do today. 

In the early days of aviation the Wrights commented about the “Fancy Fliers”; pilots who pulled back on the stick to maintain altitude.  The Wrights knew these pilots were changing the airplane’s angle of attack to hold altitude.  With limited power available, a pilot at the edge of the performance envelope is inviting a stall and most likely a spin, if the controls are not coordinated.  With the instability and inadequacy of the early airplane designs, this was not the best way to operate an airplane.  Spin recovery techniques were unheard at the time, let alone any knowledge of how to maneuver out of one.  The Wrights knew all about “well digging”, which was their term for a stall-spin event close to the ground.  Their experiments with the 1902 gliders convinced them to eventually add “coupled” and later “independent” rudder control to coordinate their turns.  Again, all of this stemmed from their empirical seat of the pants flying with an engineering analysis and review after the lengthy repair and rebuilding process.  Today we engage in a “post-flight” test review for a new design or craft.  

When you have excess power and a very slippery designed airplane, or you have low wing loading, getting away with maneuvering without adding power can be achieved initially, but it will catch-up to the unwary pilot in the long run.  When flying a light stick-loaded (low stick force gradient per G) airplane, like most of our higher performance experimental designs, BEWARE; you may be operating close to the performance envelope.  You are inviting a stinging snap-role or at least a departure into an incipient spin due to mismangement  That is one of the reasons the EAA encourages a session with a Flight Advisor before you venture off for a first flight. 

We have also heard “pitch, power and trim” beat into our brains by our primary flight instructors.  This information is published by the FAA in the “Flight Training Handbook”.  While correct, taken literally without additional thought and poor trim skills, this technique can bite you.  Consider the following as an alternative: 

  • Fly a trimmed airplane - allowing the pilot to remove his/her hands from the controls;
  • The trimmed airplane will continue straight ahead level flight without a climb or descent.
    • If you are climbing or descending (no power change), you were not trimmed and were holding control force against the elevator.
  • Note your airspeed and power setting (we’ll get to configuration changes in a future article)
  • Roll into a shallow turn and add a little power to maintain your altitude
  • If you add the right amount of power in the turn, you will neither climb or descent
You will also note you DIDN’T have to re-trim the airplane.  You just saved yourself some work (less distraction in the cockpit) and became a manager in the process.  This is an example of the technique of “Flying by the Numbers”.  
  • When you attain your desired heading roll out and reduce power to the original setting.
  • You have now flown “By the Numbers”. 
It is that simple!  The airplane is a repeatable and predictable machine – that is how we can build simulators.  If you set the machine up properly (by the numbers), you can perform these maneuvers until a low fuel warning. 

This technique is especially important when flying approaches or low level maneuvering.  You trim the airplane for the desired airspeed and manage the glide slope with power.  You can fly any and all airplanes with this technique and look like you have hundreds of hours in make and model.  Very sophisticated autopilot systems fly this way with dual parameters.  Simple autopilots use the reverse technique.  Decoupling a single pitch control autopilot close to the ground can leave you with a big surprise. 

The benefit of flying with this technique is that if the power plant fails and you are “Dead Stick”, all you have to do is go along for the ride at your selected and trimmed airspeed.  While you may land short, you will be “flying”, which increases your chances of survival in the event of an off-field arrival. 

Bill will provide more information on “flying by the numbers” and keeping the airplane with the pointy side up on landings.  Have fun with your new technique. 

Keep ‘em Flying 

Ray Hecker

EAA Chapter 92 Flight Advisor


FAAST Representative (Aviation Safety Counselor)

"Saturday Night at the Museum"

We all get the usual aviation e-mail announcements, assuming you do make it a point to stay informed by subscribing to the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) WINGS programs; the notice by the FAAST of a program in Chino, CA (CNO) was of particular interest. Why you ask was this one event so important? The reason was simple: FAAST WINGS programs are rarely, if ever, held at CNO airport – a major reliever field for Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
I have regularly flown into CNO during my 27+ years operating in So Cal airspace and was more than aware the airport does have its operating quirks and mix of unusual aircraft. If it has flown, you’ll probably find it at CNO in either flying condition, under maintenance, a new construction project, in restoration, in static review or as part of someone’s bone yard waiting for an aviation benefactor to resurrect that hunk of “junk,” or “basket case” as we aviators call it, into a marvelously rare flying machine.


“Always Treat Her Gently”, He Said; And He Is Still Right – Part 2 

It’s been a while since the first flight in the Falco - - - 4 months, 1 week, 6 days, and 19 hours, to be more precise. The intro was pretty interesting, but it was just a casual date, no heavy stuff. This second flight was a chance to go deeper into the stall sequence, see how slow this thing flies, figure out how to handle it in the pattern. The first flight confirmed that the plane needs to be handled gently, and this second flight was intended to further refine the definition of “gently”.
Ray and I, and Sophia, the Falco F.8L, departed Chino on a beautiful, clear day on our way to French Valley, with a plan to further explore her flight characteristics over Skinner Reservoir near French Valley Airport. This was the first really clear day after the first significant rainstorms of the season had moved through, so the visibility was superb and, although it was only Friday morning, the parachute jumpers were already busy at Elsinore and Perris.