Thirty years ago

Pilot - - PILOT -

The cover of the Oc­to­ber 1987 edi­tion was more of an ex­er­cise in ty­pog­ra­phy than pho­tog­ra­phy, the flight-test Turbo

Trinidad fly­ing not so much over a hazy land­scape than a sea of words. Bunny Bran­son was smit­ten with the air­craft, a devel­op­ment of the TB10 Tobago that

So­cata had brought to Bri­tain in 1979. The new high-per­for­mance (200kt at 20,000ft) TB21 of­fered ‘ex­cep­tional cabin width [and] ex­cel­lent en­gi­neer­ing’ and was ‘de­light­ful to fly… a most im­pres­sive aero­plane’. UK Agent Air Tour­ing was charg­ing a base price of £117,067 (equiv­a­lent to some­thing like £300,000 to­day) at a time Pilot cost £1.20 (oh dear — £3.10 in to­day’s money!)

In 1987 read­ers were get­ting even bet­ter value for money thanks to the ad­di­tion of fa­bled US cor­re­spon­dent and Falco builder Stephan Wilkin­son, and French cor­re­spon­dent Bernard Chab­bert. The mag­a­zine was in its pomp and boasted a fair smat­ter­ing of colour pages, which ex­tended even to Bob Grim­stead’s ar­ti­cle on ‘ cheap fly­ing’ (which might have been sub­ti­tled ‘or how I came to buy a Tur­bu­lent’). Long-term ad­ver­tiser Tran­sair had a full-page ad, of­fer­ing head­sets, hand­held ra­dios, in­ter­coms and flight-plan­ning pro­gram­mable cal­cu­la­tors from Avs­tar and Jeppe­son/texas In­stru­ments (the Prostar) — but none of the GPS wiz­ardry we know and love to­day. Notes was… er, not­ing the ‘im­por­tant airspace and pro­ce­dural changes’ to be in­tro­duced on 1 Oc­to­ber with the open­ing of Lon­don City Air­port, then re­ferred to as ‘Stol­port’. There was con­tro­versy about an FAA AD calling for wing re­moval and spar in­spec­tion on PA-28/32 air­craft after cracks had been found in aero­planes that Piper claimed had been over­loaded and over­stressed. US GA was in the dol­drums, man­u­fac­tur­ers pre­dict­ing ’87 would be the ‘worst ever’ year for air­craft sales, the pro­jected fig­ure fall­ing from 1,495 de­liv­ered in 1986 to 1,000. They were blam­ing the cost of law­suits that were adding an av­er­age of $105,000 to the cost of each new air­craft.

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