Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stan’s trip to Kentucky

Some guys have more fun than others. Stan and Kathy bundled up last week for a day trip from Greeneville TN to Big Sandy airport in Kentucky and filed this report. The Grizzly Bear (Stan) managed to pack in a BFR while he was there and ended up making it home before nightfall. That’s quite a day in a Cub. As usual, you can mouse over the pictures to get a description and click on them for a larger version.

It all started with a 4:00am wake up and drive to the airport to plug in the GPS, refuel and reconfigure the airplane.  As we drove in we saw a temperature off a local bank showing 29 F.  After getting the airplane ready for flight we go to eat breakfast at a local favorite restaurant in Greeneville, TN.  During breakfast I get my quickest weather briefing for our proposed flight direct to Big Sandy Regional Airport, KY (K22).  Clear below 12,000, no TFRs, no notams that pertain to us, and winds aloft.  No tailwind on this trip except when were on downwind in the pattern.

Yeap, that would be frost down there in East Tn Chimney Top and Kingsport, TN where the steam is rising

Well as usual during cold weather the engine remains running after the 3rd start.  Takes awhile to get the oil close to 100 F so we can takeoff.  After takeoff the oil temperature runs around 120 F all day during flight, but it sure cools off fast requiring us to go through the 3 start phase again at K22.  We see our first snow for the season and visibility is limited only by the curvature of the earth.  We can see Big Sandy 30 nautical miles out according to the GPS cruising at 5500'.  As I said going up to Oshkosh were over the Sherwood Forest and it is not friendly down there.  Not a lot of options for emergency landings as usual when flying over Kentucky, our best bet is one of the strip mines.

First snow for the season Mining Country, must be in Virginia

Trestle bridge

We arrive after 1.8 hours of flight and enough fuel for another hour of flight to complete Bob's Flight Review.  We fill up after the flight with 9.8 gallons, yielding a 3.5 GPH burn rate for the trip so far.  Just after arriving we take a tour of his hanger and compare differences between our J3's.  Bob treats us to lunch and pays for the hour flight.  More people want flights in the Cub, but we don't have any daylight left and we have to head home.

A pair of Ruskies have arrived A pair of Pitts A level J3 on scales Bob & Stan

The winds are much higher returning home and we have to stay low and fly almost max continuous power to overcome the headwinds.  We got to 4500' for a short time but descended back down to about 3,000' after seeing a 34 knot ground speed, which would have yielded a dark landing with low fuel if any.  At the lower altitude we are able to stay above 50 knots ground speed.  We do eventually climb to 4500' again further south to cross higher terrain. 

Guessing this is why they call it Chimney Top Kingsport, TN

We have beaten the sunset again and have time to fly over Chimney top to show Kathy what I have found on one of my local solo flights when she is working.  The reason they call it Chimney Top for all the little stones that look like Chimneys, small compared to Chimney Rock in NC.  It was a 2 hour flight back for 4.8 hours total of flying.  That is half the time we took to fly to Oshkosh earlier this year.  Great day of flying, even though I'll spend the next 24 hours with thigh and knee pains from using the rudders and maybe the cold weather, time to medicate.

Winter Flying in a J3 Cub

Griz and Cubby

Sunday, November 06, 2011

More Armchair Flying – Oct/Nov 2011

As luck would have it, the most beautiful weather in Western North Carolina found me on the ground with a bucketful of parts for the fuel system in the Cub, waiting for replacement parts and a measure of gumption to finish re-doing my fuel plumbing.

I depend on pals like Richard and Stan to do my flying for me in times like these and after flying over from Tennessee to give me a hand draining fuel out of my tank (I don’t have long enough arms), the two of them (and Cliff, who I’ve not met yet) launched on a trip through Hickory Nut Gorge to Shelby NC for a visit to Jerry’s private strip. Stan sent some notes to rub it in a little … no matter, I went back to working on my airplane and enjoy the flying even if it is virtual.

Here’s Stan:

Well I made it back to Greeneville, TN right at sunset.  I really got to stop cutting it so close, I think that is the third/ fourth time I have done that.  It is usually an hour and a half flight from Shelby, NC with no headwind.  Which would have made me several minutes after sunset.  But I just kept climbing looking for those higher tailwinds and also had to cross right over Mt. Mitchell again.  I'm losing count of how many times I have crossed that mountain, I think it is 5 or 6 times.  So since I feel better crossing it at 1000' AGL (Mt. Mitchell is 6684' high) and I'm VFR flying west I decide for my friend who is always surprised that I get so high in the J3 to go to 8500'.  The tailwinds give me the boost I was looking for and I'm able to get to my destination as the Sun is setting.

Crossing Mt. Mitchell[1] Just made it as the sun was setting[1] 
Stan’s pictures of crossing Mount Mitchell from east to west – the shadows are beginning to get a little long – and the sun going down on Greeneville airport.

Great flight today flying around NC seeing other Cub Drivers and flying by Chimney Rock.  And first time I had a tailwind coming and going as the high moved through during the day.  It was a 12 hour day from the time I left to the time I returned home.  The most dangerous part today was the return motorcycle ride this evening.  And the public thinks flying airplanes is dangerous.  I use to enjoy riding on the roads, but I feel safer in the air these days flying over the traffic.  One day Kathy and I hope to have our log cabin on our own airstrip where maybe I won't have to get on the roads to go fly.

Hickory Nut Gorge[1] Approaching Chimney Rock, NC[1] Passing Chimney Rock[1]

Stan’s pictures above: L-R: Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock perched on the NE slope of Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Rock framed in the struts. I don’t know how Stan finds the time to take pictures!

My reply to Stan: Great! Terrific pictures. Glad y'all had a good time. Thanks again for your help draining my fuel tank. I had to order parts to put my fuel system back together and expect them after the weekend. No flying until then, but the next three days look like no-fly days anyway. (Today, however, is magnificent and I'm on the ground).

Stan again: … here are some more pictures you might want to use ... Thanks for the gas and I would have loved to have help you put the Steve’s gascolator on, but I'm sure you got plenty of help there, did you ever take that valve apart to see if it was just a bad o-ring inside?... (partly … I just decided to get a new one). Flight back from Shelby ended up to be 1:20 beating the original plan by ten minutes and keeping me legal.  Next time I come down when the winds are calm I'll have to fly that route with Kathy during the morning so the sun shines on Chimney Rock.  Noticed the leaves are still green there, so there might be time for more colors there.

Fellow Cub in trail[1] Cubs rendezvous at Jerry's Airport[1]

Stan got pictures of Richard and Cliff flying in company and the two Cubs together on Jerry’s airport.

Stan: Its a lot of fun flying to 0A7 except for the Class C airspace (Asheville).  I just about got all the landmarks figured out to stay out of it even if I don't have a GPS.  After I cross the mountains at the TN/NC border at 5500' aim straight for Sugar Loaf until I pass the city and turn round the big golf course and fly direct to airport through the saddle.
Wow, I've learned a lot hanging out with you guys and looking at the differences in all the J3 in that area.  Now I have some modifications to make to our airplane.

There’s always something you want to do to make your airplane either better or more original. With 4 other Cubs on our airport, each has a little something different or better. Mine is a “50 foot” airplane because it looks OK from 50’ away.

Stan’s a Flight Instructor, too, and had a fellow approach him about instruction in “conventional landing gear” airplanes. That means the main wheels are in front and there’s a little wheel under the tail, thus the more commonly used “taildragger” nickname. Taildragger pilots walk proudly, but are always a little paranoid … the airplanes they fly have evil intent and will swap ends in a heartbeat. To get an idea of how this works, the next time you have a little room in grocery store parking lot stand in front of your (empty) cart and give it a healthy push backwards. It won’t go far before the front end of the cart swings around and eventually runs amok, smashing into cars. In airplanes, it’s called a ground loop, in grocery cart terms it’s called, at best, “instructive”. Either could result in an insurance claim but having to endure the embarrassment of ground looping in front of other pilots is cruel and unusual punishment.

Stan: Well I signed him off, but cautioned him on the differences on his Der Jeger experimental one seater (if I had the other computer working I'd send ya a picture).  Made another friend and someday we'll fly down there together and show him Hendersonville or whenever you guys make it up this way we'll go to his airport in Johnson City.  It was kinda a neat day, I drove over to Johnson City airport and we flew to Greeneville in his C-150.  Then we transitioned to the J3, gosh I had to re-learn how to get into the front seat.  Everybody was laughin at me being turned into a pretzel.   Fun, Fun day!

I filled my days last week with stuff around the house and finally got all the parts together to finish hooking up all the pipes in my fuel system. Of course, the weather turned nasty on the day I wanted to fill the tank and do a little test flying, but I have something to look  forward to … We’re in the first week of November now and Stan decides to take to the air before a cold front reaches him:

Finally, Stan: Just couldn't resist a solo flight yesterday around the Johnson City area.  The weather was moving in from Knoxville and I figured I would just fly in the pattern today.  After a very exciting takeoff with wind shear and turbulence I made one landing before heading out towards Buffalo Mountain.  First I wanted to find where Decker field was and I found it right next to the Corn Maze off highway 107.  Then that fire burning near one of our houses in Carter/ Unicoi County, in fact the smoke was blowing right into the neighborhood, got my attention so I flew over Buffalo Mtn. to investigate.  Interesting how it was burning as I was getting bounced around all those little mountains in the area.  I flew around the north east side and dove from 4500' down to about 2500' under the smoke layer.  Flying around the neighborhood once, before making a quick stop and go at Johnson City Airport as I was racing the weather approaching my home airport now.  Oh, how I hated looking to the west as it was getting darker, but the wind seemed to be in my favor and I was closing in on Greeneville faster than the weather.  Was wondering how the winds would be down there?  I'm 10 miles out and I can see the rain shafts starting on either side of my flight path as I'm letting other traffic know of my approach to Runway 23.  There is no other traffic in the area so I maneuver for a long final approach to get me down quicker before the rain starts.  Good stiff crosswind on final but little if any turbulence, so this ought to be a fun landing.  I prefer landing on one wheel to improve my skill and see how long I can roll on it before the others eventually touchdown.
Oh, while flying around the neighborhood I did see the bright orange jack-o-lanterns on the front porch.  Kathy said a funny last night, I had previously bought some Halloween M&Ms for her and she said, "Since it is no longer Halloween, they are now Harley-Davidson M&Ms". 

With guys like Stan and Richard around, even virtual flying is fun.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ahhhh, flying is best in the fall of the year

I’m just crazy about leaves changing color, the first crisp temperatures after summer, wood smoke from chimneys (yeah, I know, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens). Pardon me for getting all sappy on you but I love the fall of the year, and especially flying in haze-free skies when you can see clear from here to there.

Fly-ins are fun in the fall. Normally I’m all over them but with my travel schedule this year I had to attend through the eyes of friends. Here, with all his comments and a few notes from me in blue, is my friend, Stan’s, outing to Camden SC and the Vintage Aircraft Association fly-in, held on October 6-9, 2011.

This fly-in was put on by the VAA 3 (Vintage Aircraft Association) in Camden, SC. We had beautiful weather except for some gusty winds out of the east on our return trip home. When we left on Friday, we were in a hurry to get there due to the lack of sunlight left. We took off at 1400 and had until about 1900 before we would turn into a pumpkin. Light Sport rules do not allow us to fly at night, which is what I currently fly under with no medical. So our direct flight route to our first refueling spot (Shelby, NC) took us right over Mt Mitchell, NC which normally I/we avoid due to the dangerous turbulence. On Friday the winds were very calm, we were at 7500' clearing the ridge by 900', so we flew direct to Shelby which took 1.6 hours and 6 gallons of fuel. We refueled quickly, in 20 minutes we were back in the air and flew another 1.6 hours to Camden, SC arriving with an hour to spare and set our campsite up and eat barbecue prior to darkness.

Fall in the TN mountains prior to crossing into NC Crossing Mt. Mitchell Shelby's new terminal

[left to right, above: Fall in the Mountains crossing from TN to NC; Crossing Mount Mitchell, highest point in NC and also highest point east of the Mississippi; The new terminal at Shelby NC]

One side note, I entered the USAF 30 years ago on this day October 7, 1981. So I have completed my 10 years of inactive reserve and no longer can be recalled...at least under the current rules. We'd be in pretty bad shape if the government needed me anyhow.

Sunset at Woodward Airport

[Sunset at Woodward Field]

Sunrise in the campgroundCub sunrise Dawn Patrol Flyby-1

[Pictures above: Sunrise in the campground; Dawn Patrol Fly-by.]

Woodward Field at Camden SC trained a lot of American and British pilots during the years 1941-1944. Bob Morgan, aircraft commander of the Memphis Belle did his primary training here. For more information on the Southern Aviation School, go to: http://www.kershawcountyhistoricalsociety.org/PDFs/WoodwardFieldandtheSAS.pdf

Ed's Flying Bee L-5 Pilot's telling stories Snoopy's Ercoupe Stearman

Airplane pictures! Gotta put in some airplane pictures! Run your cursor over the pictures to get a description or click to enlarge:

They were really impressed with how much we packed in the little J3 Cub. We got the Best of Show award for that reason I believe and that we attended the banquet and flew the farthest, another award. Saturday is when all the other airplanes came in for the day. We had 2 Champs, a Taylorcraft, a Citabria, and a Cessna camp out with us the first night.

Waiting for my date Where we had the VAA 3 Banquet Best of Show

[Kathy waiting for her date and Stan (also called Griz) in front of the historical society building – the old Kershaw County courthouse - where the VAA banquet was held. They won Best in Show!]

Packed and ready to return

[Packed and ready to go!]

It was cool in the morning and the next night we were the only ones left camping. Did not really realize how cold it was until we left. After starting and taxing to the run-up area I was surprised to see the oil temperature only slightly above 60F, we want it normally above 90F for run up and takeoff. So it must have been cold, but we didn't notice it as we slept warm. It really doesn't get my attention until I see frost or ice.

The flight back we were rewarded with a tailwind component seeing 80 knots avg. on the ground-speed. When I turned to divert over Gaffney, SC to show Kathy the Peach Water Tower off of I-85 we saw over 93 knots on the ground-speed. We then landed in some gusty winds at our friends airport (29NC) for lunch. After recovering from a really bad headache we took off downhill with a tailwind (yuck) and flew over to Shelby for fuel for the last time.

Horsetrack north of the Camden Airport The Peach at Gaffney, SCOld railroad bridge in SC

Approaching 29NC Cubs waiting for their pilots Saying goodbye to Jerry

[Horse track just north of Woodward Field – there are a lot of horsey things at Camden; The Peach at Gaffney SC – a landmark on I-85; an old railroad bridge in SC. This is what Cubs are best at: Sightseeing. Jerry’s home strip at 29N; Cubs waiting for pilots and So Long ‘til next time.]

We then flew over to Hendersonville, NC and had about an hour to look at their museum there (Very Nice, plan on coming back). Looking at buying a new motorcycle there also, if I get it it will be a radical one, only drawback is I may look big on it. I'm still shrinking with age so maybe I'll grow into it. LOL

Kathy's new VAA jacket we won as a door prize Inside the NC Museum Just 2 kids having too much fun

[Kathy showing off her new jacket – a VAA door prize – at Hendersonville NC; Inside the WNC Air Museum; and a couple of kids just having fun!]


Here’s a shameless plug for the Museum – Come on in! http://www.wncairmuseum.com

As always we were pushing sunset and had a bouncy takeoff from the grass strip there and gusty winds again which didn't go away until we got to 6500'. We had a little time left so I showed Kathy a landing on the grass field in Chucky, TN before landing back at our home airport. Nothing is easy, even after a long day, another crosswind landing. Kathy thinks all my landings are nice, but she doesn't realize how much I have to work back there to keep it straight and right side up.

Griz & Cubby

God's artwork

Stan titles this one “God’s Artwork” – a fitting end to a wonderful trip.

Thanks, Griz.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Checking Airspeed

There's a great article in the September 2011 issue of Sport Aviation about how to rig up a homemade manometer for checking your airspeed indicator. Since I was a budding scientist (and haunted science fairs and other geeky events) before I became a theatre major , such things interest me and I had to make one of my own for my own amusement as much as anything.

Note the intriguing tangle of tubing, the symphony of scales, all the neat lines and squiggles and numbers. Ah, 'tis a veritable work of art.

Then come the usual caveats. Nothing can be accomplished in the world of science without caveats.

First and foremost, the scientist has to have a point of beginning for the experiment and rules to give him a stable platform on which to build his argument. No experiment can merit serious consideration without these essential ingredients.

Next, a convenient means of measurement must be provided in order for the scientist to gauge the success of his experiment. This is done by reference to numbers placed in very scientific fashion here and there so as to lend credence to the scientist's work. In this case, those numbers refer to air pressures converted to airspeeds and begin to mean something when the scientist adds colored water to the tubing (paying careful attention to the amount) and applies pressure to an open end by carefully blowing into the tubing (p.s. never do this. The proper method of applying pressure is to attach a length of flexible rubber or silicone tubing to the end and roll it up to provide the pressure you need, but I didn't pay attention to this part of the article). When enough pressure is applied, the open end of the tubing is sealed by either crimping the tubing or, more often, by plugging the end with the scientist's tongue. This hurts like blue blazes after awhile and leads to verbal exchanges with the second member of the scientific team that are right comical at times.

Every self-respecting scientist has an alternate means of compiling his data, so in the event a level, stable platform cannot be achieved in the beginning this blue scale shows the total difference between fluid levels in each tube and converts this differential to an airspeed. Since we are dealing with arguably the most commited scientists, to wit: pilots, every opportunity to achieve a result must be explored. Newton, Bernoulli, Boyle ... none of these guys could fly and we still remember their names. Go figure.

All in all, the manometer experiment was a success. My airspeed indicator is fairly accurate and the system leak rate is acceptable. For a much better explanation of how to build and use a simple manometer, you'd be smart to check Sport Aviation for September. Maybe this link will work: