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. 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 Oshkosh. 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.


Friday, May 18, 2018

May is for Flying in the NC mountains!

I'm doing a little basking in the satisfaction that comes from introducing the CallAir Cadet to friends, old and new, who belong to the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Vintage Aircraft Association. In the January 2018 issue, the EAA magazine, Sport Aviation, had a nice mention in the section toward the back entitled "What our Members are Building/Restoring":
 Then, in the May/June issue of Vintage Airplane, the larger story of not only the restoration but the background of the design. It originated as the Interstate Cadet in 1939-40 which was used to train a lot of pilots through the Civilian Pilot Training Program before and during the World War II years.
 The CallAir Cadet is one of a kind - the only one produced by the Call Aircraft Company of Afton WY. You can dig back through the blog for my entries or, better yet, join the VAA and ask for the magazine.

We're flying regularly and enjoying springtime in the mountains. 
Y'all come.

Monday, April 30, 2018

What's more fun than a small town Air Fair??

Hooray! It's finally springtime in the mountains!
 ... and the fine folks at the Western NC Air Museum are busy serving breakfasts on the first Saturdays of the month and making big plans for the Air Fair coming up on the first weekend in June ...

 Our Air Fair is open to the public and always draws a good crowd. Volunteers give airplane rides and the kids love our very original "ornithopter", powered by a hit-and-miss farm engine. The pok-a-pok-a-pok-a sound is as entertaining as just about anything. The antique car crowd shows up, too.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Achieving temporary immortality

At last !  I am a pilot of distinction !  Having survived brushes with imminent demise, screwed up thises and thats, a couple of embarrassments (ok, more than a couple) and a few more unmentionables, I can now claim to be THE HIGHEST-TIME LIVING, ACTIVE CALLAIR S1 PILOT IN THE WORLD!  
Lest you think this is some trifle in the annals of aviation, please allow me to explain: I am the ONLY living, active CallAir S1 pilot in the world. The few became the fewest and, thankfully, I'm it. It's a status that is, if you pardon my allusion, perishable, as long as I can avoid being the "perishee".

It also happens to be that time of the year when the annual inspection is due. Many of my fellow aviators opine that airplanes are worn out more by unscrewing things and screwing them back in than by flying. The hours-flown total for the last year is quite low, partially because minor re-do items had to be re-done after the restoration, a little bit owing to weather and mostly because I do more talking than flying these days. Now that some of the kinks are being worked out I hope to do more flying this year.

The first grand plan is to wend my way South to the annual Sun-n-Fun Fly-in at Lakeland FL next month. I tried this last year and didn't make it because the airplane wasn't out of the shop. This year, the fly-in comes first and the shop second. I hope it works out.

Dave in South Carolina made up a custom aerosol can of paint for my rudder/brake pedals and I hope to have them reinstalled when the weather turns warmer later this week. 

No flying today. The wind is howling outside and the temps took a dive this morning - today just happens to be the 25th anniversary of the "Blizzard of '93" in the North Carolina mountains, a date that will live forever around here. I must sound like a really old fogey when I spin that yarn to my grandchildren but I don't care - I used to listen to the old timers when I was that age and still remember some of their tales. The older I get, the more I appreciate them and wish I could turn back the clock. If I could, I'd make more of an effort to listen and remember.