Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Family Reunion

Used to be, family reunions were something to be counted on every year, same as summer, sweet tea and cold watermelon. We don't see that much anymore in many families - we're strung out so far and wide that it's hard to get everyone together - so it was really nice to meet the Osteen and Parks families at the Western North Carolina Air Museum with a special guest, an airplane they called "Jezebel".

Some of these "kids" (no matter their age today) played and rode in this old airplane during the time their fathers flew it - between 1956 and 2012. Count it ... that's 56 years' ownership. Of course they looked a little different then.
I got the story from Mrs. Osteen about how Jezzie got her name. It seems somebody asked her how she liked Burt's new airplane. "Airplane?" she replied. And it went from there. Burt Osteen loved that airplane - so much so that he spent a little too much time with it, in the opinion of some. You can take it from there. (Mrs. O and her children said when Burt was in his last days, he didn't talk about the business or about much other than the airplane and how much he wanted it to go to someone who would enjoy it as much as he did. What a wonderful story. I can't imagine how hard it was for them to sell it.)

We had a nice lunch together and the docents at the museum were terrific - showed everyone around and told stories about each airplane there. They even added a story: the Curtiss Robin in the museum is owned by the family of a fellow named Red Nichols who once owned Jezebel! He had a little airport at Black Mountain NC and gave flying lessons, maintained airplanes, and sold a few. Jezzie was one of the few.

All in all, a great day and an opportunity to honor two wonderful families. It was a great pleasure to meet them and to know that the ties that bind are alive and well and strong. Even with a Jezebel thrown in.

What a pleasure, too, to meet Steve Hawley from South Carolina, owner of a beautifully restored Interstate Cadet. This is a rare picture - there aren't all that many left flying.

Friday, July 14, 2017

They Called Her Jezebel

Airplanes and ships are most often referred to as women. There's no argument there. "She flies great" isn't unheard around hangars; "She's a fine boat" is often in marina language. There are all sorts of jokes about both. So it's no surprise that when a boat or an airplane commands more than its allotted share of attention, it (she) may garner more than one side comment bordering on green eyed disparagement. Thus, the allure of an insensate conglomeration of metal and fabric and dope (incomprehensible to all but, perhaps, golfers) , blended with lift and thrust to overcome drag and gravity can rightly be called bewitching and what better witch in all of history than Ahab's wife, Jezebel. 
Click on the pictures to make them larger
Jezzie was named when the Parks and Osteen families bought her in the mid 1950s. The western North Carolina mountains were perfect for "her". She was built in Wyoming where the elevation is over 6000 feet above sea level and the air is thin. The factory that built her had been rebuilding her older sisters (by different parentage) since the war years and learned that 90 horsepower was a real advantage in those conditions. 

As it happens over time, with useful employment a little sprucing up is in order:
"Jezebel" by John Liston Byram Shaw, 19th Century painter

The original paint scheme was replaced by a scheme more often found on Piper aircraft when the original fabric was replaced in 1966. When it came time 50 years later to re-do it again, I chose to go back with the original paint scheme and colors:
"Jezebel" at Marion NC in the 1970s as best I can tell
My CallAir in final assembly, Afton WY, 1952

Mr. Call, it is said, liked his airplanes yellow, trimmed in blue.

We'll see on August 5th whether the Osteen and Parks families like the results of Jezzie's makeover. They're coming from far and wide for a day trip to the Western North Carolina Air Museum and a reunion with their airplane.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The B F R, the BasicMed, Let's Go Flying!

Well, actually, the BasicMed thing came first. I'd been debating about whether or not I might use the additional privileges over those of a Sport Pilot and decided the option I'd be gaining would be speed and load carrying capability. Certainly worth the expected expense. My regular doctor took a look at the AOPA information for doctors and pilots and I was in and out in no time. Cost? A regular office visit coupled with my wellness visit (Medicare). Net 10 bucks. And now I can go faster and take Ma and the poodles to visit the grandkids (fat chance ... the dogs don't like to fly and, come to think of it, neither does Ma). Net, Net: I can dream faster. So be it.

By the way, I looked myself up on the FAA pilot database and my BasicMed month and year is listed there in place of my medical.

Now for the Biennial Flight Review. Up until 2009, I hadn't had a BFR in years. That was because I had regular simulator training at FlightSafety on the jets and that qualified as a BFR. In 2009, I trotted over to Jack Brown's seaplane base for a training session and a check ride for a seaplane rating and that qualified as well. Come 2011 and I began a regular series of Biennial Flight Reviews, first in my Beechcraft Bonanza, then the CallAir Cadet pre-restoration, then the Woody's Pusher, and today, again, in the Cadet, post-restoration. It was interesting in that I haven't had anyone else in the airplane with me for 4 years and I haven't flown it from the back seat in that amount of time, either. My instructor is a well-known aerobatics instructor and an airplane builder. He flew over in his very nifty RV-4 and after a reasonably reasonable flight check went home again with a few spots on his trousers, thankfully just from the latest oil leak (fittings for the oil pressure gauge). I hope Mrs. Jones has a sense of humor. I'm glad he does.

So we - the Cadet and I - are once again in the full flush of vim, vigor, and vitality (that oil leak was fixed this weekend), ready to ply the skies of America in search of hot dogs, barbecue and fine aviation people.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The CallAir Goes A-Flying !

When the weather is right and there's food in the offing, there is only one thing to do ... go flying!
There's no better place to call a destination than Pat Hartness' Triple Tree Airport at Woodruff SC ... last Saturday he and the Triple Tree volunteers threw a Fabric and Taildragger Fly-In Lunch (of course no one would be turned away) and I'd guess some 110-120 airplanes showed up with just as many people flying them and another couple of hundred passengers and drive-in enthusiasts. What a great spread and what nice people! I'm already looking forward to next month's  South Carolina Breakfast Club breakfast there...

The long range view across the runway of some of the airplanes. Click on the pic to make it bigger.
The CallAir Cadet is a great flying airplane - controls are beautifully coordinated and it flies straight and true after its restoration at Southern Aircraft Support in Zellwood, Fla. The factory information was a mimeographed sheet (maybe a carbon copy written up by Carl Petersen, CallAir's sales manager - I only have a scan of the original so I can't tell) that touted the virtues of the airplane. Among the selling points was the statement that the pilot could fly it with his feet on the floor - a rare attribute in a taildragger, but the actual airplane is very stable and seems to bear this out.
Birds of a feather ... thanx to Darwin for the picture
It's too bad the airplane didn't make it into production with CallAir. Only one example exists under the CallAir name and that is this airplane. I've gone over the history of the design in prior posts for your reading pleasure.

One drawback. The airplane was designed and built at a time when the average height and weight of a pilot was in the 5'8"/160 pound range. My longer legs and larger frame (I have "big bones") make for some entertaining contortions when I enter and leave the cockpit. It's sort of like watching the 16th clown get into and out of a little car, if you get my drift. Once in, all's well.

More comings and goings as we come and go. There's a gathering scheduled for August 5th for the prior owners - I hope they'll enjoy seeing their airplane again and will approve of the re-do.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The CallAir is home ! ! !

It's Official! The CallAir is home in North Carolina!

We rolled out for the first test flight on April 25th and found a rigging problem in the braking system, so the flight test was aborted after a short taxi and it was back in the hangar to fix. 

Wednesday, April 26th was the day! Good weather was forecast and observed all the way - even a tailwind! After a test flight, during which I stayed close overhead Bob White Airport, the airplane was checked over one last time and we set off for North Carolina.

The route was the reverse from our flight down in December 2012 and was planned for three stops - I don't push fuel limits and I wanted to check consumption as well as oil and airframe components. The stops were Lake City FL, Hazelhurst GA, Washington-Wilkes County (just a little north of my original planned stop at Thomson) GA, and home base of Transylvania Community Airport near Brevard NC. The bread crumbs in the picture above show a little westerly diversion to avoid military operating areas and a large temporary flight restriction over the Okeefenokee Swamp due to forest fires there.

Quite a change from the first time the airplane and I saw each other . . .

Now for some flying!

Friday, April 14, 2017

CallAir Engine Run

So close I can taste it.

The engine was run today after a pre-oiling. Prop looks a bit wonky owing to the shutter speed. There will be someone who wants one just like it so I'm taking orders.

Malcolm says there are no leaks and everything checks out. Fingers crossed, we may be ready to see if this thing will fly! I already know we (ok, just the airplane) lost a little weight from before we started - not much, but a little is good. 
One of a kind

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Almost ... Finished ...

Almost finished, just not quite ... we ran into a few issues on rollout that have to be corrected so I did a 180 and left Florida for North Carolina by car and will wait for the magicians to abra all their cadabras.

 Sure looks good
Thanks to Joe Dunn for the great pictures
Some things you want to get done, but rushing to a completion is no way to do it. The trip was not wasted - sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see new things, especially after working on a project for 3 1/2 years. The expectations were already high - now they are better defined and we'll have a magnificent airplane.