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Thu, Jun 12, 2003

Soap Box: Tech and the New, Modern-Aircraft Owner

By Cody L. McCormick

Whenever I buy a new car, it usually takes me week just to figure out how to work the stereo. Generally it takes a couple of weeks to get comfortable with the vehicle. The worst case was a '96 Firebird. It took me a solid month to get used to parking it. With the headlights on, I knew I had about a foot nose beyond the corners of the headlight housing. With the lights off about three feet of the front end weren't visible to me, and I'm over six feet tall. No wonder my wife didn't like driving the car. Her only indicator of where the front was would have been the windshield wipers.

Still, in this day of High-Tech as the norm, when I visit friends I'm surprised at how many VCRs are still flashing "12:00." Most people can turn their home stereo on -- and that's about it. Trying to get the satellite TV to work with the DVD through the VCR and to the surround system and the digital TV almost requires an engineering degree. On top of that there are really cools ways to hook your home computer in to the whole mix.

Needless to say, these people don't get the most out of their audio/video equipment. These people are the same ones that haven't spent a few bucks to make a couple of trips around the local race track to find out what their new vehicle can do. As for the radio, whatever station the kids left it on is what they listen to.

What about power tools? How many angles can you cut in one pass with a table saw? How accurate are the spirit-levels on a power drill? Do they actually mean anything? With laser levels, moisture meters and metal detector wands even carpentry has gone super high-tech. Then there are the adhesives… uh, let's not go there.

So now we have this guy, that can't cut a crown molding corner in one pass, has his kids turn on the TV, hopes the computer was left on so he can play "Free Cell;" and has no idea at all what the "Check Engine" light on his new car means or why it's been lit for the last two months: he wants to trade his dogged-out VFR daylight-only '64 Cherokee 140 for a brand new Beech 36 with a full panel and then some. Think of his sniveling and crying, when he finds only one insurance company willing to look at him -- and they say, "Factory School and dual only for the rest of your natural life."

My bet is he will decide to 'self-insure.' I'm absolutely sure he will look at the TCAS warning the same way he looks at the Check Engine light. Y'all be careful now, ya hear?

[Cody McCormick is an aircraft insurance underwriter in Arizona --ed.]



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