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flight

How An Airplane Propeller Works

Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: If an object A exerts a force on object B, object B must exert a force of equal magnitude and opposite direction back on object A. This law is not always evident to the naked eye, but it is the crux of anything that moves us through the world. This “action and reaction” principle even applies to how an airplane propeller works. 

Your feet push against the ground propelling your body forward when you walk. Tires kick back against the road as the wheels on your car turn and move you down the road. But what about propeller-powered planes? These do, too!

A propeller is essentially a machine that moves you forward through the air as it turns, “lifting” you in the intended direction. Though it works much the same as a screw, it looks slightly different. Generally, a propeller has two, three, or four twisted blades (sometimes more) poking out at angles from a central hub spun around an engine or motor. The twists and angles are really important. A propeller is shaped like a wing, producing higher air pressure on one surface and lowering the air pressure on another surface.

We acknowledge that not everyone is as passionate about how propellers work as we are. And it’s okay if you’re not! If you are a private licensed pilot in California or Nevada, looking for “propeller repair near me,” contact Stockton Propeller.

How An Airplane Propeller Works

When the Wright brothers learned how to combine engine-powered propellers with the other parts of their flying machine design so they could go forward and upward simultaneously, the flight was born. Planes took to the skies!

The propellers’ inventors designed them to look somewhat like screws — and it’s easy to see why this basic design was their starting point. 

To “push” a screw into a wall, you apply a clockwise turning force to the screw with your screwdriver. The screw’s spiral groove (sometimes called a helical thread) converts the turning energy into a push that forces the screw into the wall and secures it there. 

Propellers are similar to screws, but they are not exactly twins. They are, of course, doing a completely different job. An airplane propeller’s purpose is to make more or less thrust (driving force) to varying points of a flight (during takeoff, during landing, or at a steady cruising speed). The propeller blade’s angle and its overall size and shape affect the thrust, and so too does the engine’s speed. 

Another difference is that while a screw moves into a simple, solid material and meets a (more or less) constant oppositional force, a propeller is moving in a fluid airstream, and there are all kinds of extra factors to consider. For example, although a propeller produces enough thrust to move you forward, it also has enough drag to hold you back and slow you down. 

Another difference between screws and propellers is that propellers have both twists AND angles. A screw has a constant pitch, while the slope of a propeller blade varies along its length. The rise is steepest at the hub (in the center) and shallowest at the tip. 

The propeller’s parts move at different speeds: the propeller blades’ tips move faster than the hub’s positions. The propeller blade’s angle should be greater near the hub, where the propeller is moving slowest. Then, shallower near the tips where the propeller is moving fastest. This reasoning is why propeller blades are slightly twisted. Without this twist, the propeller would be producing different amounts of thrust at the hub and the ends, which would put it under great stress.

How A Propeller Generates Thrust

Propellers generate thrust, but how exactly does that happen? 

A spinning propeller sets up an air pressure lower in front of the propeller and higher behind it. Downstream, the pressure eventually returns to normal conditions. As air passes through the propeller, the velocity is greater than the free stream because the propeller works on the airflow.

What About Acceleration?

For airplane acceleration, the thrust must be greater than the drag. By increasing both the engine power and the propeller revolutions (RPM), the air is increasingly accelerated across the propeller blades, creating a stronger pressure differential, pulling the airplane forward. This pressure differential accelerates the aircraft but limits the available thrust. As you accelerate, the drag load increases. Because of this, higher airspeeds require more power to accelerate.

A propeller’s efficiency also plays a large part in acceleration. At approximately the 80% efficiency point, any increase in forward airspeed results in a loss of propeller efficiency. This lack of efficiency at higher airspeeds also decreases the thrust and power available.

Propeller Diameter

A variable-diameter propeller would be most efficient in an ideal world, allowing for a large diameter for low airspeeds as well as a smaller diameter for high airspeeds. Due to structural, control, and weight issues, variable diameter propellers aren’t practical. Instead, the diameter of most propellers allows for a “happy medium” between varying airspeed operations.

Putting All Of This Together & Making It Work

Propellers convert engine horsepower into thrust by accelerating air and creating a low-pressure differential in front of the propeller. Since air naturally moves from high to low-pressure, you are pulled forward when your prop is spinning.

But if the propeller isn’t spinning correctly, isn’t precisely balanced, or needs other maintenance or repairs, you won’t be pulled forward. And this is where it gets dangerous!

We realize that everyone is not as passionate about how propellers work as we are. And it’s okay if you’re not! If you’re in Northern California or Nevada and you’re looking for “propeller repair near me,” contact Stockton Propeller.

Categories
flight

The History Of The Airplane Propeller

The science and art behind the design of airplane propellers started simply. The basis for the airplane propeller design’s original concept was the same as the concept behind the screw. That’s right, the simple screw. 

Of course, this screw design was well before different repair shops could handle repairing and replacing various parts for all aircraft sizes. For today’s aircraft propeller repairs, contact Stockton Propeller.

Back In The BCs

According to most aerospace history experts, Archytas of Tarentum is responsible for the invention of the screw. He lived from 428 BC to 350 BC. 

This invention was adopted quickly by the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes in 200 BC. 

The first screws were used to extract oils from olives and juice and move water up from wells with less effort. We know for sure that this was a commonplace technology used from Egypt to Greece and beyond. 

A “Little” Later On

Leonardo DaVinci, the great artist and inventor, sketched his first “flying machine,” or helicopter design in the mid-1400s. 

He never built this first helicopter or flying machine. But sketches of the design included an upward-facing “airscrew” that he believed would lift the machine off the ground with enough rotation.

The 1700s and 1800s Starred Major Developments

Yet it wasn’t until the mid-1700s that inventors began discussing how to use this technology to power boats by creating rotating screws, or boat propellers, to power vehicles through the water. 

By the 1800s, boat propellers had become the standard technology for a wide variety of marine vessels.

In the 1840s, Sir George Cayley designed a flying machine. His design included twin propellers. 

Another early pioneer was Alberto Santos Dumont, who designed his own propellers for his airships. He used aluminum for his propeller designs. 

The 1900s Took Over

However, the Wright Brothers would take the airplane propeller’s idea from paper to practicality in 1903. They introduced their twisted airfoil propeller design. The Wright Brothers threw out the old notion that airplane propellers’ design should be based on screws. They hypothesized that the design of an airplane propeller should look more like a wing than a screw. After all, wings create the lift that buoys the airplane. Airplane propellers, they reasoned, should be able to displace air backward to produce forward thrust. This reasoning led them to add a twist along the blade’s length. The twist ensured a more consistent angle of attack for the blade. The twist allowed for pulling a consistent amount of air toward the plane with each rotation.

Until the mid-1920s, propellers were made from wood and were fixed pitch, which significantly limited the aircraft’s performance capabilities. Wood propellers turned the aircraft engine’s power into thrust to propel the plane forward. They featured a permanently set blade angle, called fixed-pitch, and consisted of layers of wood. They were cheap, easy to manufacture, and light, and were the dominant propeller type for high-performance aircraft until the mid-1920s. After that, small general aviation aircraft relied upon them for thrust. The Vin Fiz, T-2, Douglas World Cruiser Chicago, and the Piper Cub feature wood propellers.

In 1929, Wallace Turnbull patented his original design for a variable pitch propeller. This new design allowed the pilot to manually adjust the blades’ pitch and maintain better control over the aircraft’s performance and operational efficiency.

In the 1940s, wide rectangular blades came into use as engine power increased, as they absorbed more energy than traditional round-tip blades. 

Later, engineers developed constant-speed propellers. Constant-speed propellers are variable-pitch propellers. They adjust pitch automatically to maintain a constant rotational speed easily. Many of today’s high-performance propeller airplanes use constant-speed props because they offer better performance and fuel efficiency.

Fast Forward To Today’s Aircraft Propellers & Repairs

Aviation has come an incredibly long way since the Wright Brothers first introduced their propeller design. Just as airplane design has progressed since the beginning of powered flight, aircraft propellers have transformed, too. The Wright Brothers’ newly-designed propellers were about 82% efficient compared to today’s 90% efficiency rate. To achieve those gains in efficiency, engineers have modified airplane propeller designs over the years. 

Today’s aircraft propellers are made from wood, aluminum, or composites. Designers may also reinforce the leading edge with nickel for strength and durability. 

Today, we see anywhere from two blades to six or more blades for propellers in operation. The blade count for any particular aircraft depends on many factors. These factors include: 

  • the engine power, 
  • the operating RPM for the propeller, 
  • the propeller’s diameter limitations, 
  • that aircraft’s performance requirements (including high-speed cruise, takeoff, loiter, etc.), 
  • any noise requirements, 
  • and various others.  

As an aircraft’s power increases, additional blades are generally required to utilize the increased power efficiently. High efficiency in modern airplane propellers comes from running the blade tip speed close to the speed of sound.

The perfect propeller design aims to convert the airplane’s engine’s energy into the thrust that propels the aircraft forward. Looking at an airplane propeller, you can see that its blade angle varies as you move from the base to the blade’s tip. This variance has to do with the fact that the blade’s speed is lower inboard and higher at the tip. The blade’s varying angle ensures that all of the thrust generated is about equal across the blade’s whole.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service governor, metal, and composite propeller overhaul and maintenance facility. We provide service to individuals, FBOs, and Air Carriers. For today’s aircraft propeller repairs, contact Stockton Propeller.

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flight propeller inspection

Propeller Inspection Checklist

Propellers are one of the most critical parts of a well-built and well-maintained aircraft. As such, it’s essential to frequently run through a preflight or “walkaround” propeller inspection checklist. The last thing any pilot wants is to have to make an emergency landing because the propellers has failed.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility in Northern California with the needed equipment and expertise to perform the needed inspection and service on your propeller. Get inspection and maintenance before a failure happens on your aircraft. Contact us today.

Why Is Aircraft Propeller Inspection Important?

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), “the root cause of mechanically induced accidents is almost always neglect.” The AOPA continues:

“On takeoff, propeller tip speeds approach the speed of sound. The blades must absorb not only the punishing vibration of the engine’s power pulses but also vibration caused by the oncoming airstream. Centrifugal loads – those forces that try to pull the blade out of the hub – amount to 10 to 20 tons per blade.

     The blades twist and flex. The stresses imposed on the prop are more concentrated in the small areas that are nicked or cut. These nicks and scratches act as stress risers, which can weaken the blade enough to eventually cause it to fail.

     When an engine quits, the airplane can glide to a safe landing. When a propeller blade is lost, the resulting imbalance can tear the entire engine from the aircraft, putting the center of gravity far beyond limits and rendering the aircraft uncontrollable.”

That scenario, of course, can be avoided with frequent inspections using this propeller inspection checklist. Performing these routine preflight inspections can clue you into any needed propeller maintenance or repairs.

working propeller

Stockton Propeller’s Propeller Inspection Checklist

A “walkaround” or preflight visual inspection of your aircraft’s propellers is vital for your plane’s safety and health. Even more important is the safety of you and your passengers or cargo. 

An important note: While the term “walkaround” may make it sound like this could be just a superficial glance. However,  this should instead be a studied review to gauge your craft’s airworthiness.

To perform a preflight visual propeller inspection, follow these steps:

  1. Get a clear view of the propeller area. In other words, make sure your propellers are clean. In the course of any flight, propellers can pick up dead bugs, dirt, and other pollutants. If your propellers are dirty, it will be challenging to get a good view of any defects. If the propellers are dirty, you can easily wash them off with a simple solution of dish soap and water. If you have to wash off the propeller area, make sure that your propellers are in the down position. This will prevent any liquid from getting into the seals and causing issues there.
  2. Check for surface damage. Carefully and thoroughly examine the aircraft’s propeller blades and other parts for any cracks, nicks, chips, corrosion, or other blemishes. Surface damage can be felt by running a fingernail along the propeller’s edge. For propellers made of wood or composite materials, check for delaminations or microcracks on the propeller surfaces, edges, and glue lines. If your propellers have any drain holes, check that they aren’t clogged. Clogged drain holes can lead to moisture retention and more significant problems down the road.
  3. Check for erosion. Examine the propeller for any and all signs of decay. Look over the paint job on the propeller blades and spinners for any imperfections. This paint on the propeller protects the surface from erosion. If erosion starts to occur, it can be a much more costly fix than having a professional touch up your paint job.
  4. Check for any loose or missing hardware or broken safety wire.
  5. Check for any broken or compromised seals.
  6. Check the straightness of the propeller blades. Perform a simple sight check for any deformations down the edges of the propeller blades. You can determine the straightness of the propeller blades with this simple sight check.
  7. Check for looseness. Flex the propeller blades forward and backward to inspect the intersection for any movement. There should be no movement at all.
  8. Check the hub. Gently shake each propeller blade to feel for blade movement in the hub of the propeller. A small degree – up to ⅛ inch – is allowable. If there is more movement than that, maintenance is needed immediately.
  9. Check for oil or grease leakage. Look for any grease or oil. There should be no oil or grease detected on the propeller blades or spinners. A couple of exceptions are if your propellers are brand new or you are in a hot climate with high RPM conditions.
  10. Update maintenance records. If you notice a small imperfection, make sure to note it in your aircraft’s maintenance records. Your repair person will know when you first saw the issue during a walkaround or preflight inspection. They will also know if the issue gets worse over time.

If, when following this checklist, you don’t see any areas of concern, your propellers are airworthy, and you are good to fly away!

close up of aircraft propeller
close up of aircraft propeller

How Often Should You Inspect Your Aircraft’s Propellers?

Before any flight, you should perform the above visual propeller inspection checklist of your aircraft’s propellers. 

Then, of course, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your scheduled overhauls and maintenance. Generally, these schedules are based on years and flight hours.
The recommended Time Between Overhaul (TBO) guidelines are mandatory for Part 135 commercial operators, but are only recommended for Part 91 pilots not flying for hire. That being said, Part 91 operators should follow the calendar recommendation for overhaul as a recommendation for inspection/reseal at the 5 or 6 year interval if the prop is less than halfway through the hour recommendation. This gives the prop a good inspection, replaces the aging grease and seals and gives the blades a cleanup and repaint. This will allow the prop to operate safely for another calendar period.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility in Northern California with the needed equipment and expertise to perform the needed inspection and service on your propeller. Get inspection and maintenance before a failure happens on your aircraft. Contact us today

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business flight

Preventing Corrosion with Propeller Maintenance

Aircraft propeller maintenance procedures are strict and rigid – and for a good reason. Ensuring that the propellers of any craft are in optimum condition is essential for maintaining onboard safety. Propeller inspection is a vital part of this, as is taking measures to prevent damage and issues.

Corrosion is one of the most significant factors in the deterioration of propellers, and this can be expensive and dangerous. Luckily for you, here at Stockton Propeller, we make it our mission to keep you informed and educated. In turn, this means you can keep your aircraft in tip-top condition for longer.

What Is Corrosion?

In the simplest terms, ‘corrosion’ refers to the breakdown of a material – usually metal – due to a chemical reaction. Typically, this will involve the oxidation of metals with air or water molecules.

Corrosion can also occur when an acidic or base material comes into contact with something else. Corrosion impacts the physical properties of a material, making it weaker or less effective.

When it comes to aircraft, this can be very dangerous.

vintage propeller blades

What Are Common Types of Propeller Corrosion?

There are many causes of aircraft propeller corrosion. Familiarising yourself with the most common will help you prevent them. These most common corrosion causes include:

1. Uniform Surface Attack

The most common type of corrosion, uniform surface corrosion, is caused by the metal’s exposure to the oxygen in the air. Uniform surface attacks usually occur where paint wears away from the surface.

Decay will be accelerated if the surface is not adequately prepared before painting. It can also be exacerbated if the propeller is exposed to high humidity, acids, or pollutants.

2. Intergranular Corrosion

This type of corrosion is less common but more disastrous. Once you have discovered it, it is usually too late to save the propeller.

Intergranular corrosion occurs between the grains or crystals of the materials and may appear in the presence of tensile stress. Here, cracks may occur along grain boundaries, and progress along the paths until total decay occurs. 

This type of corrosion usually occurs as a result of chromium depletion and can be avoided using materials with less than 0.05% carbon.

3. Stress Corrosion

Stress corrosion is prevalent in highly stressed areas of the aircraft, such as propellers, engine crankshafts, or landing gears. Scratches or corrosion to the metal surface is usually the primary cause and can result in the component’s failure.

4. Crevice or Deposit Corrosion

Another common form of corrosion is crevice, or deposit, corrosion, and can occur anywhere, which traps pollutants or moisture. Rivets and lapped skin joints are prime examples, and this can result in a weakening of the entire structure if left untreated.

5. Filiform Corrosion

The first sign of this is usually fine, worm-like lines or corrosion which show up under paintwork. Over time, this will turn into a bubbling, flaking surface, leading to long-term damage. Filiform corrosion is most commonly found on aluminum or magnesium surfaces, which have been inadequately prepared for polyethylene paints.

small private aircraft

Reduce the Risk of Corrosion with Aircraft Propeller Maintenance Procedures

Corrosion can be catastrophic to an aircraft, especially when it occurs on the propeller. These are the heart of the craft, and a failure here can lead to tragedy in the air. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of corrosion, and these revolve around proper maintenance.

Wash Your Aircraft

Taking a little time to wash and care for your craft can really pay off in the long run. If you have undergone a long flight, make sure you rinse off the aircraft to remove any corroding agents. 

Take extra time and care on propellers, do not use a pressure washer, and make sure these are treated with corrosion inhibitor products where appropriate.

Cleaning your propeller blades properly can help to increase their lifespan, and well as reducing corrosion. Different materials will have different requirements, as follows:

  • Aluminum and steel propellers should avoid caustic or acidic materials, as well as steel brushes, steel wool, or power buffers. Instead, use a brush or cloth with a suitable cleaning solvent, and add a suitable polish if required. Once clean, coat the propellers in engine oil.
  • Wooden propellers need warm water and mild soap, with a cloth or brush.
  • Remember to rinse in freshwater as soon as possible if it has been in contact with salt water, and thoroughly dry once finished.

Use Covers

Covering your aircraft helps to protect it from the elements, and this can also be applied to propellers. Investing in quality propeller covers allows you to increase the lifespan of these parts and keep them safe from corrosive factors.

Keep The Aircraft As Dry As Possible

Staying dry can be easier said than done if you live in a damp climate, but it is essential to try. Make sure your craft is dried off thoroughly, and don’t leave propellers to simply ‘drip-dry.’

Cessna 172

Carry Out Regular Propeller Inspections

Ultimately, implementing a strict, regular inspection and maintenance program is the easiest way to reduce corrosion. A scheduled propeller inspection plan will allow you to get to know the aircraft, flagging up any inconsistencies or changes immediately. It also allows you to treat corrosion as it arises, rather than leaving it to spread.

What Is Involved In A Propeller Inspection?

A regular inspection should include a visual overview of the propeller and any other security features. As a rule, you should check:

  • Propeller blades and spinners for any grease deposits or the presence of excessive oils
  • Weld and braze sections for evidence of weakness or failure
  • For any scratches, nicks, or flaws on the propeller.
  • Bolts and screws for tightness and proper safety.
  • Ensure oil levels and lubricating requirements are sufficient.propeller maintenance keeps planes flying

Preventing Corrosion with Propeller Maintenance

Learning to undertake regular, thorough maintenance and inspections are crucial elements of owning an aircraft. At Stockton Propeller, we have the skills, experience, and equipment you need to keep your propellers in the best condition. 

Get in touch today, and ask one of our experts how we can help keep your craft airborne for longer.

 

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business flight Uncategorized

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Flying

There are few experiences available to humans that offer the exhilaration of total freedom and limitless vistas while saving significant travel time. Getting your pilot license and flying a private aircraft accomplishes these feats and then some.

Training for your pilot license is more accessible than you might imagine. View the world from above with us as we detail several ways “regular” people can and should learn to fly.

Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility with the function and performance of your aircraft as the height of our service. Stockton Propeller can perform needed propeller inspections to help ensure your airplane is in good working order.

We perform static balancing in-house to keep your aircraft in top-flight shape. Visit our website today to learn more and enjoy your flight.

A Pilot License for Every Flyer’s Dream

Portrait of confident pilot standing with stewardess and private jet in background at terminal

Pilot licensure varies tremendously. Selecting the type of pilot license you want depends largely on your flight goals. You can choose to apply for a private pilot license all the way up to a commercial license. You may even want to become a flight instructor if you’ve dreamt of flying as a career. 

There are several pilot designations between private and commercial. You can specialize in recreational and sport pilot certificates depending upon your purpose in flying and budget. In the classroom setting you will learn about aircraft propeller maintenance procedures

Dipping your toe in the flying world begins with a student license, for which you must apply. In addition to filling out the required paperwork and training eligibility with the FAA, you’ll also have to pass a medical exam. 

People in general good health typically can fly planes and other aircraft legally. However, if you have a chronic condition, you may want to check it against this FAA list to see if it may affect your pilot training eligibility.

If the FAA approves your pilot license application, it’s time to obtain a student pilot license.

Learn at Your Pace

Thankfully, the eligibility requirements for a student pilot license are pretty straightforward:

  • Be at least 16 years of age (14 if you’ll pilot a balloon or glider)
  • Have fluency speaking, writing, and reading in the English language (the Universal language of pilots and the flight industry)

Once you’ve applied for and obtained your student pilot license and your medical certificate, you can begin fight training.

Finding a local flight school in your area is pretty simple: Google “flight schools near me,” and you’ll get an array of options.

Join the Piloting Community

If you know another pilot, you might try to get a referral for a reputable school near you. Check on their comprehensive offerings, and be sure to compare costs between providers. This type of activity may not be the place to seek out the biggest discount, just saying. 

A happy professional woman pilot sitting at the airport.

Instead, look for experience, reliability, an excellent safety rating, and stellar reviews online or on social media. When learning to fly, you may want to gain more background on the pilot community. Try searching out and joining a few social media groups dedicated to flying and learning to fly in your area. 

When you join the piloting community, you’ll share unique skills and experience in common with a dynamic and daring group of people all over the world.

Learn new skills at every age

Your training will include ground-based classes to learn the science and physics of flight, safety procedures, emergency protocols. And you can expect to learn the rules and regulations of the airspace during this time.

You’ll also log flight time with an instructor to learn how to operate a single-engine aircraft. To gain licensure, you must log 35 hours of flight time in varied conditions and aircraft. You’ll also take written exams, pass the FAA check ride, and be a licensed driver.

The beauty is you learn at your pace, depending on your flight school’s training schedule. A typical student can earn her PPL in about three months!

Gain Confidence, Learn More, Fly Bigger Planes

Learning to fly means plenty of advancement opportunities for the hobbyist and professional alike. Once you’ve achieved your PPL, you can choose to maintain that foundational licensure. Or, advance your skills, experience, or career in flying with the following certificates:

  • Commercial Pilot License: Obtain this certificate if you wish to earn money as a pilot. PPL holders cannot receive compensation for flying.
  • Airline Transport Pilot License: To fly for commercial airlines, this certificate is required of all pilots.
  • Commercial Multi-Engine Land: Think of this certificate as an add-on to your PPL or CPL. You’ll cover different equipment and emergencies and how to navigate them safely.
  • Certified Flight Instructor: This level of training allows you to teach new students pilots how to fly.

There are several more advanced certificates available that you can add to your credentials as you gain experience and knowledge. With changing technology and climate, flight education and safety procedures evolve over time. Pilots must stay on top of new industry developments as they arise.

Flying is Fun, Relaxing, and Can Save Time on Travel

Of course, flying is an endeavor to take up with safety, education, and experience in mind. However, there are over 600,000 licensed pilots in the United States alone! 

Further, when you fly, traffic is much less of an issue. True, you’ll have to be watchful and communicative on take-offs, landings, and near airports. But, for longer flights, private air travel may be as safe as driving on the road.

No Ownership Required

Though many pilots own an aircraft, it’s possible to rent an airplane to log your hours or fly for fun. Typical rental rates run about $125.00 per hour, depending on the type of aircraft. You’ll want to check rental policies to find out if fuel and other fees may cost extra.

Co-ownership is also an option for pilots who want to fly, but not own and maintain an aircraft by themselves.

Call Stockton Propeller to Keep Your Airplane Flying Happy and Safe

Stockton Propeller keeps your propeller blades balanced and in top shape for safe and reliable flying time, every time you take off (and land, for that matter.) To get a repair quote or view our current inventory, visit Stockton Propeller today.

We lead the industry in safety, functionality, and customer service for every aircraft and pilot we serve.

Categories
flight Uncategorized

Why is Aircraft Propeller Static Balancing Important?

One of the most enjoyable things to love about air flight is the sensation of being free of the ground and gliding smoothly through the air. The last thing you want to be thinking about when flying your airplane is an aircraft propeller overhaul. Your focus should be on the experience of flight and those enjoying it with you.

Unwanted vibrations can ruin the feeling of freedom and make flying less pleasant for both the pilot and any passengers. Vibrations can result in discomfort as well as the loss of revenue in the case of commercial pilots hoping for repeat passengers. Unwanted vibrations can result in passengers feeling unsafe and taking actions such as leaving negative reviews or taking their business elsewhere.Biplane sitting on runway in the sunset

Vibrations from the aircraft propeller can also have an impact on cargo in the plane as it is shaken and shifts during flight. Vibrations could cause fragile cargo to break, or essential parts of the aircraft damaged over time. Improperly balanced aircraft propellers can drive up maintenance costs.

Aircraft propeller static balancing after the initial point of manufacturing the plane is typically done during aircraft propeller overhaul. Stockton Propeller is a full-service maintenance facility that can help you with your propeller overhaul or any other needed maintenance.

What is Aircraft Propeller Static Balancing?

Image of a propeller with a red planeAircraft propeller static balancing at a basic level ensures that the propeller is moving evenly through the air as it rotates. When conducting the balance, each propeller blade is weighed to make sure that it weighs the same as all of the others. Each part of the propeller weighing the same ensures that gravity will affect each part of the propeller evenly as it rotates through the air.

An uneven weight distribution during rotation will cause the propeller to vibrate. Even if the pilot or passengers of the plane cannot feel the vibrations themselves, the vibrations can have an impact on the engine. Pilots may accept vibrations as merely a part of the way in which the airplane’s engine works.

Pilots should consider having a static propeller balancing conducted prior to feeling any vibration. Pilots may not be able to notice any vibration or notice any changes that develop over time. Performing a static propeller balancing can avoid future maintenance issues.

How is an Aircraft Propeller Static Balance Done?

When professionals at a place like Stockton Propeller conduct a static propeller balance during an aircraft propeller overhaul, they remove the propeller from the aircraft. Then the propeller is mounted on a device called a mandrel, which allows the propeller to spin freely.

A properly balanced propeller should be able to move quickly. According to Bellwood Rewinds Limited, if turned slightly after a static balance is done, an object should stay in that location. This process is done the same way very much as tire balancing on a vehicle.

In an improperly balanced propeller, the weighty spot will be pulled by gravity downward. This allows the maintenance facility to discover unbalanced areas and fix them. Weights are added or subtracted from the area of the propeller hub nearest to the misbalanced propeller blade, which corrects the imbalance.

After the Propeller Static Balance is Completed

Once a propeller is evenly balanced, the maintenance staff will conduct what is known as a “blade track.” Each of the propeller’s blades path through the air is tracked and monitored. Workers mark where the blade tip passes an object, such as a track pointer or a spot on the wall. A properly tracking propeller should have each blade passing at the same location. Even a difference of 1/16th of an inch is too far.chrome covered plane propeller

If a propeller blade is out of track, then the “angle of attack” will be slightly different from the others when flying. This different angle can cause vibrations due to it moving through the air in a different path. A propeller that is out of alignment can mean that it was damaged, an issue which should be investigated further.

The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Propeller Balancing

Aside from static propeller balancing, which should always be performed, there is another common type of propeller balancing– dynamic propeller balancing. Although not absolutely necessary, dynamic balancing “fine tunes” the balance. 

Even small imbalances that are not noticeable to the pilot can cause damage to components such as instruments, radios, cowling and baffles and reduces the efficiency of the propulsion system. Unlike static propeller balancing, dynamic propeller balancing is conducted while the engine and propeller are in motion.

Sensors are attached to the engine and propeller and run through the full range of RPMs. As this is done, the sensors are analyzed for possible vibrations. The technology can recognize and determine how much weight needs to be added or subtracted.

In a dynamic propeller balancing the technician should have proper training and the equipment must be in good working order and clean.Errors or inaccurate data can result from this. These errors can lead to the weight being added or taken away from the wrong location on the propeller and increase the potential for damage.

In static propeller balancing, the evidence of a proper balance can be seen in the movement of the propeller and that when rotated, it will remain in place. Doing both can produce high-quality results. Pilots should be sure to conduct research before they decide on a maintenance facility to best suit their needs.Twin propeller plane sits on runway

Where to Turn for Aircraft Propeller Static Balancing?

When you are looking for a maintenance facility to perform your aircraft propeller overhaul, it is important to select a company with the experience and expertise to conduct all of your needs. Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility with the needed equipment and expertise to perform your propeller balance.

Whether it is done as a part of an aircraft propeller overhaul or because you feel an unwanted or unusual vibration, an aircraft propeller static balance is an important piece of your maintenance plan.

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business flight

The Basic Aerodynamics of Flight

For those learning about the principles of aerodynamics, this article seeks to cover some of the basics. Like how does a propeller work on a plane, and what are the four forces of flight.

Aircraft are complex machines. Each part must work together not only to propel it forward but also to overcome gravity for it to fly. The four forces of flight include thrust, weight, lift, and drag.

If you are concerned that there is an issue with your propeller and want to have a propeller overhaul to optimize the aerodynamics, contact Stockton Propeller. Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility with the needed equipment and expertise to perform your needed maintenance and repairs.

Thrust

One crucial component of an airplane’s aerodynamics is the force of thrust. The propulsive force created by the propeller or rotor works to counteract the effects of two of the other four forces of flight — weight and drag.

Airplane wing and tail flying though a cloudy sky

Your airplane’s propeller generates thrust by utilizing the principle of Newton’s Third Law. Newton’s Third Law states that for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction. A propeller or jet engine pushing air to the rear will have the effect of moving the plane forward unless some other force halts it. 

The plane’s propeller will push enough air past it to cause the aircraft to move in the opposite direction of this force. The propeller must work with a high level of efficiency to provide the necessary thrust for takeoff and flight.

The amount of thrust needed will change throughout the flight. As explained below, the weight of the plane’s propeller is just one component of weight to overcome.

You must also accommodate the mass of the fuel needed to power the propeller flight. As the flight continues, fuel is consumed.  As the fuel is consumed, its mass is reduced.  As mass is reduced, less thrust is needed. 

Weight

Another of the four forces of flight is weight. Weight is the force caused by gravity.

This weight includes not only the aircraft itself, but also the mass of the cargo, fuel, pilot, and any passengers. Increased weight means that the aerodynamic forces of thrust and lift must also increase.Diagram of airflow over the wings of an airplane

In propeller flight, the weight of the propeller itself must be accounted for in the mass calculations. Also, weigh or estimate the weight of all cargo, fuel, passengers, and anything else loaded onto the aircraft.

If this weight is not accurately determined, it will affect the plane’s performance.  It will also result in miscalculating the fuel volume needed for the flight, and even the plane’s ability to take off safely.

If the plane cannot generate enough lift and thrust to compensate for the weight, then some weight must be removed. To reduce the excess load, replace materials with stable, yet lighter materials, or carry fewer passengers and less cargo.

Drag

Drag is a rear-facing force caused by the disruption of airflow over the wing, fuselage and other components of the plane. The force of drag must be overcome through the forward momentum of the aircraft. To reduce drag, you may also need to alter the design of the aircraft.

Think about the comparative wind resistance of something like a paper airplane vs. a cup held concave side toward the airflow. The pointed shape of the paper airplane allows the air to flow smoothly over its surface and wings. Paper airplane flying due to aerodynamic principles

On the other hand, the cup will catch the air and not allow it to flow past. Catching or trapping the airflow will result in much more drag. The plane’s shape will allow the air to continue in the direction it was initially flowing without much interruption.

When questioning how does a propeller work on a plane, consider the concept of drag resulting from all aspects of the aircraft. Examine the surface of the plane, as well as the position and shape of the propeller. Optimize the propeller blades to create the least amount of drag possible while creating enough power to propel the plane. 

Lift 

According to NASA, lift “is the force that directly opposes the weight of an airplane and holds the airplane in the air.” Every component of the airplane works together to counteract the effect of gravity on the plane. 

Even with an efficient propeller, a plane in propeller flight would not fly if the rest of the aircraft was not designed to generate lift. 

Lift is a complex and often misunderstood principle. Lift is the force produced by the changes in air pressure above and below the aircraft components, most specifically the wings. 

For lift to take place, a fluid or gas: in this case, the air around the plane is required. In addition to a fluid or gas, you also need a solid to deflect the flow — the airplane wings, flaps, ailerons, among others. The fluid or gas must also be in motion.Diagram of flow of air over a plane flying landscape

In order to understand how does a propeller work on a plane, you need to put the fluid in motion by propelling the aircraft through it.  Planes cannot take off without being powered to generate this initial forward momentum.

The curved shape of the wing creates lift by making the air move faster across the top of the wing and lowering the air pressure.  This reduced pressure results in less force pushing down on the wing while maintaining an upward force under the wing, creating lift.

How Does a Propeller Work on a Plane to Optimize the Forces of Flight?

The propeller, coupled with the engine, is what produces enough thrust to move a plane forward. Once the plane is moving forward, the remaining four forces of flight combine to provide the necessary lift to get the aircraft in the air.

These aerodynamic forces of flight, all working optimally together, result in an efficient and safe voyage.

If your propeller is not operating as efficiently as needed to optimize thrust, contact Stockton Propeller. Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility that can assess your plane and perform any necessary maintenance.

 

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flight

Top Airshows in the US

Airshows are a fun event for everyone. Sure, airshows have plenty for you if you own or repair planes, but they also typically feature fun components like stunt shows, too.

Airshows are popular in the U.S., so you’ll likely be able to find one near you. Check out our list below of the best U.S. airshows, or look for others near you.

But don’t worry: you don’t have to go to an airshow to get information about aircraft propeller repair service. From basic maintenance to a complete overhaul, Stockton Propeller can help with it all.

Reno Air Races

The Reno Air Races have been held in Reno, Nevada, for 48 years. They feature different races and performances.

There are also vendors and exhibitors. You can find information on things like flight schools and aircraft manufacturing, as well as purchase items related to aircraft.

One of the most exciting things? The Reno Air Races is the location of the National Championship Air Races, so there are six different classes of aircraft at the event: Formula 1, T6 Class, Biplane, Sport, Unlimited, and Jet.

You can see both racing and acrobatics. The aircraft race on three- to eight-mile courses. Pilots can be civilian, ex-military, or amateur.

In between races, acrobatic pilots perform. Other times, you’ll notice military fly-bys or demonstrations.

This combination makes it an excellent place for a pilot or enthusiast to bring the family. You get to enjoy the specialty, vintage, and modified aircraft, while the kids get to enjoy the acrobatics or military aeronautical technology on display.

So whether you like to watch the speed-of-sound-breaking jets or the vintage and stock propeller aircraft, you’ll find it at the Reno Air Races!

Want a tip? Sunday is the busiest day, so to beat the crowds, go earlier. However, if you want to see the final races, the Unlimited Gold Race, you’ll have to join the crowds on Sunday.

experimental aircraft at airshow

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

There’s a reason the EAA AirVenture is known as The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration. This weeklong event is the largest airshow with attendance over 500,000.

There are also more than 10,000 aircraft, and you’ll see all kinds, like vintage craft, homebuilts, ultralights, and warbirds if you make the trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for this incredible event.

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just aerial performances and static aircraft on the ground at AirVenture. There’s plenty for kids or family members who aren’t pilots or aircraft enthusiasts.

For example, there are films, pyrotechnics, demonstrations, workshops, and kid-specific activities. And if you’re looking for a career path in aviation, you can attend the Aviation Job Fair to meet with employers.

Have a lot of kids? This might be the airshow for you: youth aged 18 and under get in free in efforts to introduce more young people to the joys of aviation.

The EAA AirVenture is also committed to encouraging females in aviation. There is a three-day EAA GirlVenture Camp during the airshow and a female-focused gathering called EAA WomenVenture, where women can network, build camaraderie, and enjoy special events.

P51 Mustang at airshow

Los Angeles County Air Show

The L.A. Air Show is a two-day event in almost-always-sunny Southern California. But don’t let the brevity of this airshow dissuade you: it’s full of impressive air performances as well as plenty of ground exhibits.

If you’re looking for daring and spectacular aerial displays, you’ll want to check out this show. If you wish to see Air Force fighter crafts blazing through the skies with precise movements or propeller planes executing acrobatics and stunts — or both! — you’ll find it here.

The L.A. Air Show also features a historical performance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, complete with flaming pyrotechnic effects. But it’s not all serious: There’s a humorous skit involving a “stolen” 1946 Piper J-3 Cub that will have everyone laughing.

Educating and inspiring young people is a mission for this air show, so they have a STEM program included in the event. There are high school robotics teams in attendance, displaying their creations.

There are also hands-on exhibits where attendees can test out robots, and a new drone exhibit, too.

The event also has multiple panels. Speakers may include former war pilots or current aerospace industry workers.

If I can only go to one airshow, which one should I attend?

It’s hard to pick just one, and, of course, your location and availability might affect your decision, but the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is the largest and highest attended.

If you want to go where everyone else is going and see most people and events possible, it’s probably the airshow for you.

However, if your focus is interacting with other pilots or enthusiasts, or exploring exhibits and vendors for information about aircraft propeller repair service, for example, you might be better off finding an airshow near you.

At a local airshow, even if it’s several hours away from you, you’re more likely to find other flight enthusiasts who live near you and aviation industry services in your area.

boy learning to fly paper airplanes at airshow

What’s the best airshow to take kids to?

For most kids, especially younger ones, the Reno Air Races and the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh are both excellent choices. However, most air shows these days have special areas or events for youth.

All three air shows featured on this page have STEM zones and drone zones. Both of these features will be big hits with tweens and teens.

The EAA AirVenture has a section called KidVenture, which not only has fun, hands-on activities but includes instruction areas where children can log actual flight simulation instruction with a certified instructor or earn official FAA credit.

If you’ve got a future pilot on your hands, EAA AirVenture’s KidVenture is a great place.

Whether you’re interested in repairing or maintaining a propeller because it’s less expensive than replacing it or because the propeller you need is hard to find, Stockton Propeller can help you out.

They’ll also work with you to modify stock propellers for experimental aircraft or better performance. Contact Stockton Propeller today to find out how they can help you.