Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why I like country airports

I guess I like country airports because:

I remember the Father's Day Fly-Ins at Talmage's on Long Island ... and the Cub I left behind when I retired from my day job.

I like my hometown airport in North Carolina because I can look up at the sound of a radial engine and watch a Stearman land right in front of me ...

Then another one lands right behind him ...

What a beautiful sight ... owned by a couple of guys just out for a good time on a good day ...

John throws a hot dog shindig with all the fixins a couple of times a year ...

John and his sister make you feel at home ... and Carleton tries to look innocent with that second hot dog ...

Life at country airports takes on a whole new meaning. I've spent a fair amount of time at airports over the last 40 years, some of them friendly, some of them not so much ... and I've decided that if all that time I spent at the not-sos made it possible to be here, then it wasn't time wasted at all.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Latest Great Adventure

Cub 38439 002a

Max (the Cub – a baby bear, as in Max Baer … I guess you had to be in on that naming ceremony) & I flew from Zephyrhills to Hendersonville NC ... 6.9 hours total flying time with stops at Lake City, Swainsboro GA, and Anderson SC. All is well. I had to tweak a couple of things along the way (the gascolator set screw decided to back off a little and spring a fuel leak but I snugged it down and the leak stopped - I'm going to order a "Steve's" gascolator from Oregon and that will be a permanent fix) ... one of the planned fuel stops turned out to be deserted and no fuel at all so I had to stretch the second leg a bit but all turned out OK by the grace of God. Thank heaven the gascolator leak started on the next leg!

One thing in particular struck me as I motored along my very familiar route … the air was decidedly free of airplanes, and it a beautiful Sunday afternoon! The economy, I suppose. That’s what they all say. Time was, you had to wait in line at a gas pump or you’d hear four or five airplanes at a time on the radio in a local airport traffic pattern … sadly, not now. Maybe somebody who knows a little something about economics will wake up some day with an AHA! moment or an attack of good sense and realize that the aviation community is down to its seed corn … that’s country folks’ language, meaning that further attrition of our general aviation pilots, mechanics, support facilities and suppliers will plunge our nation into an aviation depression from which we will have a very hard time recovering. No seed corn eventually means no corn at all and the handwriting’s on the wall.


The airplane is in its hangar at the Western North Carolina Air Museum at Hendersonville and I believe I’ll go out and clean up some oil drips ... don't know yet where they are coming from but that's pretty typical of a newly rebuilt engine as you know ... all the parts have to wiggle around a little before you can finally tighten everything up where they'll stay in place.

There are some airframe parts to check out ... the oil pressure gauge and the oil temp gauge seem to be accurate and they are the most important ones anyway ... all the rest bounce around quite a bit and need to be looked at. Again, pretty typical of parts that sat in storage for almost 60 years and no way of knowing for sure just what effect all that time may have had. Could be they just need to be exercised a few times ... that's happened before.

I have a good airplane. Now it's at home on a grass runway with 4 other Cubs and 3 others within a few minutes' flying time so it's in good company. I wrote in a notebook many years ago that I had a dream of a grass runway full of little yellow airplanes and people having fun. I guess dreams really do come true.