Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mountain Flying

The finest moments spent are those in the company of good people, or in a good place. There are few places that can compare with the company of my family in the mountains I love, in a good airplane and on a perfect day.

I have a lot to be thankful for.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Triple Tree Fly-In 2009

This was my first trip to Triple Tree. What a place!

I didn't know if this was a travel trailer and motorhome park ...

A fishing hole ... (they were biting - catch and release)

An airport ....

A manicured golf course ...

... or a family park (kids and pets welcome if they're managed).

The answer is, it's all these things (well, maybe not the golf part) and quite an accomplishment for the owners.

Take a look at their web site:

Now, if the weather would only cooperate. The fly-in runs from Wednesday through Sunday; I was there on Friday and that turned out to be the only decent day - it rained cats and dogs all the rest of the time. Same thing happened last year.

This is a must-do next year.

Fly safely ...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One door closes - Another door opens

First off ... farewell to Champ! I really enjoyed the airplane during this past year. When I bought Champ (see May 2008 post) I was going through an awful case of taildragger withdrawal, having sold the Cub to friends at Bayport Aerodrome on Long Island. It would have been along way to commute to fly a share of the Cub so I bought Champ to retire to the NC mountains. Then I got bitten by an open cockpit bug. Dadgum bugs, they just seem to keep biting!

Champ Taxis out on one of its last flights at Hendersonville NC ...

There was a fellow at Hendersonville back in the day named Jesse Anglin who, it turned out, designed some really nifty airplanes. He was in good company. A couple of other Hendersonville residents were well known airplane people in their own right - Matty Laird, Leighton Collins, Oscar Meyer (not the hot dog guy) ... Anyway, the story goes, Jesse took a ride with my friend Chet in his PT-19, enjoyed it immensely, and set out to design a homebuilt airplane with the same wind-in-your-hair feeling he had in the PT-19. The result was the Spacewalker. It was a single seat airplane that was built with toughness in mind. A friend in the model airplane business - again, it is said - asked Jesse about a 2-seat version and the Spacewalker II was born

Voila! The Spacewalker II !

Cory and I talked back and forth for several months - he had to quell a family insurrection ... the kids didn't want to see the Spacewalker go! I can imagine. This is an airplane designed for fun .

Unfortunately, it wasn't designed for my long legs. The airplane is just terrific but when I went to get inside I was all squnched up ... by wiggling around I could get in - barely - but couldn't get my feet to work the rudder pedals properly and heels far enough back to use the brakes. I sat in that airplane and was so disappointed. (Cory said he wasn't heartbroken and wrote later that he'd put over an hour on the airplane a couple of days after I left.)

So I keep looking. There is another airplane out there with my name on it.

P.S. If you're ever in south Louisiana near Lake Charles, go to D.I.'s Cajun Restaurant. The food and family are just wonderful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bayport NY Antique Fly-In !!

This month we take you back to Bayport, Long Island, NY for the annual Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York Fly-In.

Bayport Aerodrome has been designated a National Historic Site

This sign is a really attractive billboard at the entrance to the Aerodrome.

A prize display is the actual "St. Louis" Curtiss Model 50 "Robin". This airplane set a remarkable record for time aloft. In July 1929, Dale Jackson and Forest O'Brine set an endurance record of 420 hours, 17 minutes in the air, using in-flight refueling. Later, they set a new mark of 647 hours, 28 minutes using the same plane, named St Louis.

Once the flying got underway, airplanes of all descriptions were going aloft. The AACGNY member airplanes are flyers! There are a few that are on museum display only (such as the Robin above) but most are actively flown all year round.

Mario "Yogi" Barra spent his professional life with the airlines and we found him very happy in his retirement, getting his Aeronca Champ ready for some fun flying ...

John and Max had a great time watching the airplanes. John is an instructor who has been bitten by the antique airplane bug.
Oh boy ... now here's a collection. Gene and Ed and President Stu and Dave ...

Kaitlin and Stu on their way to the wild blue yonder ... Stu just loves the Cub, which was pried away from an unsuspecting owner who was about to retire ... (me)

Some of these pictures look eerily like others from earlier posts ... "Ace" had his N3N and Ryerstahl out in the sunshine ...
The Ryerstahl - top of the line fighter in the Royal Vulgarian Flying Corps - is actually a tweaked EAA Biplane, complete with machine gun and - somewhere to be installed - a bayonet.

The south flight line on Saturday afternoon ...
This gorgeous PT-22 just begs for pictures ...
Our Russian colleagues, Vladimir and Andre, found this YaK-18 on the west coast and flew it back to NY ... many hours and 4-5 days. The engine is a Russian version of a Kinner. Brave men. Note the rotation of the engine is clockwise as viewed from the cockpit ... just like the American Kinner. Most engines of Russian manufacture turn the opposite way.

Steve's Fleet 16 with a new engine from Al Ball, exhaust collector and - gasp - a starter!
Here's another picture of the YaK-18 ....

... and the instrument panel from the YaK ...

Boy, was it hot in New York for this fly-in! Temps in the 90s had to be cooled at the Sheep Shagger Baaa ... doesn't this remind you of the bar scene from Star Wars?

Sunday morning was "Pancake Day" and Mike was on hand to cook 'em up ... Dick has a plate full and one of our guests is chowing down ... sorry mate - I didn't get your name.

The north flight line on Sunday morning with Tom and Eileen's pink L-16 right in the middle ...
What a treat to fly with this guy ... Jack is back in Cubs after flying them when they were new and graduating to Air Force transports and TWA ... at TeeWee he flew most of their inventory from Convair 220s to Constellations to the Boeing 747 ... and I got to give him his Biennial Flight Review in the Cub! Welcome back to the low and slow club, Jack, and Happy Landings!

Bayport Aerodrome is located just south of the Sunrise Highway at Bayport NY. For maps and more information about the aerodrome and the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York, look them up at

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Ugly Duckling

Once upon a time there was a really good Bonanza that had what was left of a dated interior. The seats looked in pretty good shape for the shape they were in and Captain John said he could live with them but I know both of us well enough that a new interior was just around the corner.

The back seats were not too bad ... the front seats were pretty tired ... and the overall yellow and rust and brown just screamed 1970s.

We looked high and low for an interior shop. One shop wanted to re-use our old foam and promised an outstanding result (how?) and a reputable vendor said they'd make up the covers and we could install them ourselves (I know how those things go).

Finally, we settled on Enrique's Custom Upholstery at the Levy County Airport (X60) in Williston FL. Henry (Enrique) and his family came to the US years ago and eventually found their way to a horse farm near Williston. They had been in the upholstery business in Mexico before coming to the United States and after trying to make ends meet for a long time, returned to what they knew best. The transition to aircraft interiors took some time but they have created some beautiful work and have an impressive portfolio. Henry, his wife and son work together in the family business and the work is coming in!

Henry and Dave (Fisher) worked together for a helicopter operator and went out on their own later. They've been in the service hangar for several years and are now leaseholders. The dream is alive for these guys and they work hard - even harder in these historic economic times. Dave installed a new windshield, new front side windows and new door seals while Henry and his family did the interior

The old front seats were not in all that bad of shape. Maybe some slipcovers would have been OK but we'd still be stuck with the sidewall panels and all that yellow.

SHE took one look and decided not to fly in the airplane. It smelled old. The carpet had a lot of old oil in it from who knows when.

Where I saw classic, SHE saw dated.

Son John's bride to be has been tactful enough but I saw something similar there.

There was only one way out.

Henry and Dave to the rescue!

The old interior was removed completely. The old insulation was removed and with that all the "old airplane" odor was effectively gone.

Dave took out the old front side windows and windshield and replaced them with new ones, tinted light grey.

The old insulation was replaced with a new product that is not only a temperature insulator, it also is a noise attenuator. Super soundproofing, he calls it, and it WORKS!

The difference is just astounding.

The new side windows are made without the metal frame that came with the original windows. The difference in the size of the window is really apparent.

I think Henry did a great job of re-shaping the rear seats to bring them into the 21st centuryThe overall effect brightens the airplane considerably and gives it a much more pleasant first impression.

SHE says she likes it.

And I like that.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Air Fair Weekend at 0A7 (Hendersonville NC)

What Fun! The Air Fair was a great time for everybody. The project is a fund raiser for the Western North Carolina Air Museum - tours of the museum, airplane and helicopter rides, hot dogs and burgers and belly washers of several descriptions ... it's a weekend blast.

The lemonade and ice cream stands are up early - on a warm day those rake in good money for the cause. On Saturday we had 18-20 airplanes fly in before noon ...  
It wasn't possible to catch a picture of the airplanes that were flying rides because they weren't on the ground together ... there was a 182, a 172, a Tiger and (of course) Champ ... all together I suspect a couple of hundred rides may have been given to paying passengers at $25 each. The helicopter was busy constantly -  a Robinson R44 - no way to know how many he flew because I was busy with Champ ...

The local newspaper photographer snapped this one of Bill and me getting ready for our "Dawn Patrol" flight (OK, it was a little after dawn - we called it an "advertising" flight)

This was my view of the Air Fair most of the weekend. Different hairdos, of course, but you get the idea.

The trees at the south end of the field make for interesting departures when flying rides, so we generally takeoff to the north and make our approach over those trees. With 3000 feet of runway (half paved, half grass) we have plenty of room as long as the pilot minds his airspeed. I like using the grass for landing with Champ, of course.

Sunday was a little quieter but was still a terrific day ... a Bell JetRanger from one of the local racing celebrities dropped by for awhile ...
The kids love riding the museum's ornithopter ... powered by an old farm engine that pops and clatters its way along a taxiway behind the hangars ...

The Air Fair for 2009 is history ... Champ flew 23 paying passengers and gave gratis rides to some of the volunteers ... we won a lot of friends for a friendly little airplane. Talk was heard from some people about learning to fly and from others who were finding possible ways to put together partnerships for some affordable flying fun ... that's what it's all about ...

Fly safe, Y'all.