Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Day the Snow Came Down

 Don't ask me why. I don't understand.
12-14 inches of snow in 36 hours is enough.

The picture was taken 5 days afterward and even today, a week after, the runway is still covered. 

I don't ski. My airplane doesn't ski. In weather like this we also don't fly because we can't takeoff or land.

People in Wisconsin are prepared for this sort of thing. We aren't.

Spring will come. It always does. Granny said so.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Day the Rains Came Down

We're famous around here for changeable weather. The mountains, they say, make their own and we take what the mountains give us. In the case of 8NC9, Johnson Field, the home of the Western North Carolina Air Museum, the mountains and their friends, the beavers, endow us with enough rain at times to make for a perfect venue for seaplanes. Here are some pictures from last month's showers:
Looking northwest at runway 32. The beavers, cute little buggers that they are, build dams along the natural drainage creeks and cause havoc for airport people.
More pics:
Fortunately, the mountains also protect us - these were pictures of the aftermath of unusual rains courtesy of Hurricane Michael that devastated the panhandle of Florida and raised havoc all the way to New England. The floods recede and eventually everything gets back to normal.
Time and tide eventually win the day and we are back in business. The field stays a bit soggy in places for about four days after one of these downpours but at that point the crown of the runway is dry enough for a little soft field practice.

Here it is, November, and the weather has been absolutely perfect for flying all this first week ... which, of course changes tomorrow. Warm gives way to cold, calm gives way to wind, fall gives way toward winter - though we've been very fortunate so far to have had a gentle introduction. 

The CallAir Cadet is flying beautifully and graced me with one of those "are we down yet?" landings. Can it get any better?

Monday, October 08, 2018

Why I Love Little Airports

There's no doubt, I am a little airport kind of guy. My first boss out of the Navy once asked me where I wanted to be a few years hence and I told him I'd like to be in a chair at a little airport with a grass runway, watching little airplanes takeoff and land. He thought I was nuts.
A few years back here in the NC mountains, we had a little get together for Cubs and classic airplanes. The weather didn't cooperate but we went ahead and had a great time anyway.

Click on the pics to make them bigger ... these past couple of weeks we've had some great local fly-ins in the nearby flatlands. Laney's barbecue and fixins - always a big hit - and the Miller residential AirPark fly-in are both popular.

From way down South in Florida, Connell's Wahoo Ranch and Dr. Pete's "Back Achers" (he's a retired chiropractor) haul in the traffic from all over Central Florida.
It's as American as you can get. This picture is from the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York  collection of pictures on Facebook.

So who's nuts? Pull up a chair.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

September Hurricanes, Tailwheel Follies, Looks Back, Looks Ahead

Just when we thought we'd escaped hurricane season ...

Florence bore down on the coastal Carolinas and taught us Mother Nature can be ... instructive ... As in, who's Boss.

Naturally, being fond of machines that harness moving air to generate lift, I was concerned for people and airplanes that lived in the path of this storm. It was a Category 4 hurricane, no trifling late summer breeze. Once ashore and westbound along North Carolina, *poof* it was just breezy rain. Our mountains did their job.

Fun stuff ... working to re-do some of the tailwheel steering and rudder/brake pedal components on the CallAir. Nothing really serious, just detail work that takes friends from across the country to help with photos and advice. 

Our local airfield at the Western North Carolina Air Museum will be out of service for a few days until the accumulated rain water has a chance to drain away, giving me time to assess the work that needs to be done and arrange for someone to do it.

I've learned a lot about restoring a one-of-a-kind airplane.

Today is battle of Britain Day. September 15, 1940:

Prime Minister: "All up?"
Dowding:  "All up, sir."
Prime Minister: "Reserves?" 
Dowding:  "None, sir."

Their finest hour.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

When August Comes

The view up Runway 32 at Johnson Field (8NC9)

Not much happening today, which is a pretty  good excuse for doing the things we do well around here, namely sit in the rocking chairs and talk about everything under the sun, including airplanes. Spontaneous lethargy should be a college major Down South.
Mark was a yankee but he went to NC State so that makes him OK. We've bemoaned the lighting in our hangar for some time (not that we're there at night but those hours in the chairs have to produce something to discuss). Last week we took the bull by the horns and finished installing the LED overhead lights ... the result is that we will have a place to go when we are looking for stuff to do in the dark winter months. Now, for heat ...
Last Tuesday's EAA Chapter meeting was another successful cookout and jawboning session. The RV builders/flyers dominated the outdoor displays but there were other fly-bys and plenty of good food and conversation. One young fella who was here from California to finish his instrument rating with Greg at Smokey Mountain Aero got his first ride in a Subaru-powered RV-8. Nice guy and seems to be in line to make a good career start in the aviation field. 

The little airports are the future of our aviation discipline - no matter if someone has an eye set on a professional career or just wants to fly for the pure fun of it. We can't just stand by and watch them disappear, which is why EAA chapters and local organizations make the effort to bring in new blood. It's working in a lot of places, including here.
I can't let the opportunity pass to wish my friends at the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York good weather for this weekend's annual fly-in at Bayport Aerodrome, the last municipally owned grass runway on Long Island. It was great to be with you while I was a Confederate spy, repatriating yankee money, and I miss your company.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

July is for Flying! (One way or another)

I was getting all tuned up for Oshkosh and was set to go this morning (Saturday), overnight stops all guesstimated and otherwise arranged for the CallAir Cadet to make its grand appearance on Monday morning of the show ... then the weather conspired to put a low pressure area east of my route and a high pressure west of the route, creating a venturi that I'd have to slog through to get there. Flight-only time went from 7.5 hours to 13.5 hours and the first part over the mountains would have been rough. Nope. Uh-uh. Ain't gonna.
Trace a line from western NC to OSH and that's what I'd have been going through.

I've been there before. In 2001, I flew my Cub from Florida to Long Island NY in roughly the same conditions, minus the mountains. The first hundred miles took over 2 hours. The route was along an interstate highway and everything, I mean everything, on the road was passing me. The next hundred was little better and the end result was that it took me roughly the same time to go the first 400 miles than it would've had I been in a slow car - in traffic. Eventually, it took three days to get there.

It's a darned shame I didn't make it to Oshkosh. Earlier this month, Mark and Darwin and I teamed up to get some nice inflight pictures of the Cadet for General Aviation News and they used one of the shots on the cover of the magazine, which came out a couple of days before AirVenture. I was all set to show off the airplane and maybe have it judged. Maybe sell it. 

What to do ... what to do ... what to do ... ?

Why not? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Airplanes, Fast Growing Grass and Rock Eating Poodles

It doesn't seem to matter whether the weather is naughty or nice, the grass does grow and - when it doesn't - the dog eats a big rock that gets stuck in her gut and that, in turn, eats into my flying budget  ... pfft ... if it weren't for that I'd just spend the money on dead dinosaurs and send them into the atmosphere. So that's my contribution to the effort to curb Global Warming and bring harmony to Mother Earth.

On the plus side, the airplane is gassed up and ready to fly and 8NC9 is dry and mowed. All that is needed is a couple of hours to commit lift.

I will only write this once: DO NOT LET YOUR DOG EAT ROCKS. Lest you think rock-eating dogs and airplanes do not go together, how much avgas can you buy for the money you have to spend on vets and pet hospital ICUs when your dog does manage to slip one in and get it stuck? It's painful for both the dog and the wallet.
She's back home after showering the vet with a cruise and gas for the Porsche but she's not 100% yet.

 Now to order the new wheel and spindle for the mower (I managed to break it on a hidden stump when I was zooming around on the tractor last week). Note to self: Do not zoom around on tractors while mowing. 

We are full of admonition today. Etc.

 Maybe the stars will align. Maybe I will fly tomorrow. Oh please. Oh please.