Thirty years ago
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.