Thursday, April 08, 2021

A Fine Day Out



What a great day to fly! The Glastar has been champing at the bit and I’ve been wanting to stretch its legs so we hopped over to Andrews in hopes of a visit to Bipe, Inc. and it’s owner, Jerry Stadtmiller. Leo and I met Jerry last October when we flew the CallAir to Tusquittee Landing, just south and east of Andrews. 


Jerry has been restoring airplanes forever, first in south Florida then in the far west of North Carolina. If you read Lisa Turner’s columns in Sport Aviation, Jerry is Mr Lisa Turner or Lisa is Mrs Jerry Stadtmiller ... either way they are a super knowledgeable pair of airplane people and they’ve invited us over for a visit and tour through Jerry’s restoration shop. Take an advanced look at www.bipeinc.com 
With Sun-n-Fun next week, and the first flight of Jerry’s newly restored Waco UPF-7 (the airplane is good enough to eat, no sugar needed. I’ve never seen such a gorgeous airplane), I expect it will be a couple of weeks before we can launch an expedition. 
Meanwhile, the work and workmanship continues. Did you see that Eagle? Many hours per stripe and that was just the prep!
The nicest guy .. the most willing to help fellow .. just what the doctor ordered to keep the enthusiasm burning.




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

50th Anniversary Flying

 It'll be 50 years next month since I first slipped the surly bonds of earth without someone else in the airplane. To write that it was likely the most exciting thing in my life would be overstating a bit - those were exciting days all lumped together; marriage, children, college graduation, my OCS commission - all those have to count ahead of flying but it was flying that marked the beginning of my professional life and the realization of childhood dreams.

After 50 years aloft in various airplanes from J3s to jets I have been told by the insurance underwriter that my flying days in the CallAir Cadet are all but over, at least as far as that airplane is concerned. Oh, they'd renew, but only on the condition that I jump through hoops far beyond FAA Airman Certification Standards and then there was the price - stupid ridiculous. The Cadet is a Light-Sport compliant airplane, restored to better-than-new and a sweetheart to fly. 

I've known pilots who complained about this or that in a headstrong way and I've been able to calibrate my BS meter pretty accurately where they are concerned. I've known pilots who faced an arbitrary number, first 60 then 65, when they were told they were too old to fly for the airlines. I've also known pilots who flew safely into their 90s and the age thing never entered my mind - until it happened to me. I vaulted over 75 during the last year; apparently that makes a difference to my insurance company.

Mark Baker of AOPA and Jack Pelton of EAA have expressed concern about the insurance situation. I hope they can drill some sense into the underwriters. It's ability, experience and judgement that makes the difference, not age.

So while my ownership of the CallAir Cadet comes to a conclusion, I have no regrets for the time or the money or the care I've lavished on this airplane. It was, from the first, an orphan born of the same regard for a fine machine as mine; we were supposed to meet sooner or later and I'm glad we did.






Saturday, February 20, 2021

It's February '21 - Where Did January Go?

 SO ... Here we are the second month into 2021 .. 2 COVID-19 shots out of the way and I'm ready to meet the world again - at least at a respectable distance.


The CallAir Cadet is in fine form .. just out of its annual inspection and in top shape. I decided to put it up for sale at a steal of a price (45k) to make more room in the hangar for the Glastar and Mark's RV-8 .. it gets a bit crowded in there and I'm not flying it enough. If you know somebody looking for a great buy, here it is.

The hangar is going through a spring cleaning a little early .. it's amazing how much "stuff" can pile up if you're not careful. 

Way back in the back is Kermit, the Glastar - mine for the last year and a half .. I'm really eager to get it out and doing what it is meant to do - take trips far and wide. The Covid thingy put a crimp in my style but it did give me time to get things done to the airplane like ADS-B and such. Now it's ready and so am I.

Temperatures are supposed to creep up a little tomorrow, enough to open up the hangar and shuffle the airplanes around, extract Kermit and go out for one of those megadollar burgers at GMU.


 

Monday, December 28, 2020

The End of 2020 - At Last

Don't get me wrong I'm in no hurry to come to the end of anything .. the calendar unrolls all too quickly at this stage of my "event horizon" .. its just that 2020 has been such a bugger of a year that I'm ready to breathe the fictional breath of fresh air that is supposed to accompany a New Year.

Now that the days are beginning to lengthen, all eyes around the hangar are turning to getting the annual and condition inspections out of the way and even getting a little flying in when the weather cooperates.
Hangar space is at a premium around here. Nuff said.
The CallAir Cadet is still for sale, though the price has fallen to $45,000. I still enjoy flying it, but I don't fly it enough.

During the days when there's no flying or fixing or stuff that presses to be done, it's nice to catch up with a new, old friend I've never met. Brigid is a redhead who flies, hunts, likes good whisky, loves dogs and old guns and to top it off, loves to cook. What's not to like? I tried one of her pancake recipes - fantastic. Visit her blog at:

https://mausersandmuffins.blogspot.com/



Monday, October 05, 2020

A Little Piece of Heaven

 Once in awhile you run across a place that has just about everything you always wanted a place to have. Last weekend Leo and I flew the CallAir Cadet from our mountain home to another tranquil place about 70 miles west as the crow flies. The views of the mountains was wonderful, no wind, smooth all the way and the Mighty Continental (Powerful as the Nation) pulled us along at a stately 100 mph or so.

There was quite a bit of fog in the valleys between here and there (1A5 was reporting indef 200 and 1/4 mile) so we detoured to the south, beyond the mountain ridges, so we wouldn't be caught "on top" .. just in case.

The place we visited is called Tusquittee Landing (NC08), a private air park with homes and a community area. Brian took a picture looking east when he flew over it to scope it out:

It's a little piece of paradise at slightly over 2,000' msl with a 2,700 foot runway that is smooth as a pool table. Brian drew in their right traffic pattern for runway 28 in red .. Leo and I flew a straight-in approach from the east down a beautiful valley.


From their windsock, this is looking east at the terrain leading to runway 28. The nearby hills aren't at all intimidating, at least when there's no wind to negotiate.

The community area might have room for another hangar. Everyone we met was super friendly and we enjoyed our visit and BYO sandwiches .. much like 8NC9's Wednesday lunches.

The homes at midfield and toward the west end feature their own hangars .. aircraft ownership is required. That's a good thing as so many airport communities lose their way in this regard, leading to the hangars being turned into storage buildings.
Looking west you can see the broad expanse of runway and grass that allows for quite a comfortable, open, air park. Mr. William T. Piper of Piper Aircraft envisioned a country full of places like this in the 1940s and 50s and went all over speaking to private groups and municipalities promoting the idea. 

**NOTE** Tusquittee Landing is a private field and prior permission is required. Please check in with them at https://tusquitteeflyers.org/ BEFORE visiting!


The trip home, winding our way between mountain peaks, included a fuel stop at Franklin's Macon County Airport (1A5) where we filled up with 6.9 gallons of their finest 100LL AVGAS. My fuel consumption with proper lean mixture averages out to 5 gallons per hour .. pretty good for a 90hp engine.

All in all, a grand day to be out flying, best spent with good friends, old and new.




Thursday, September 24, 2020

To Be or Not To Be

Now I'm not one to hoard or hang on to most things too long (fooey - just ask my wife) but it came to the renewal of my Flight Instructor certificates last month and I honestly thought about letting them go by the wayside. There were regrets, to be sure; after all, I worked hard for them and have always thought the profession a noble one. 42 years have gone by as a CFI; that's nothing to sneeze at.

John and Pat Henderson in the late 1940s/early 50s

If I had mentors it was without their knowing. I always looked up to the first Flight Instructor with whom I was acquainted: John Henderson, who eked out a living at the Silver Springs Air Park in Florida. John was a civilian instructor during The War (WWII) and settled with his wife and family in rudimentary quarters in the early 1950s. Eventually things improved and John became an aviation icon in that part of the world. I never flew with him but he has always flown with me.

Bill Kershner
 chief cook and bottle washer at Ace Aerobatic School (motto: never fly with a guy named Ace)

Mentor #2 has to be a fellow who guided a lot of us through his books, experiences and good humor: Bill Kershner. We met when Son John was a student at St. Andrews School at Sewanee TN. The airport where Bill held forth was just down the road a bit. What a neat guy .. veteran of thousands of spins while teaching basic aerobatics and upset recovery to students from around the world, a former Naval Aviator, corporate pilot and demo pilot for Piper Aircraft Company. Bill started out with a wish, then a dream, then put his dream into action working as a line boy fueling and hand propping airplanes, sweeping floors, soloing at 16 and working his way up. His career timing was perfect.


The modern day flight instructor has to jump through a few hoops to start his students .. it used to be that a third class medical certificate served as a student pilot certificate; nowadays the certificate is issued by FAA after a vetting process to ensure the student doesn't pose a threat to security. 9/11 changed a lot of things and flying is definitely one of them.


Despite the hurdles, the CFI is still the key to preserving our heritage of freedom to fly the skies of the USA. Without the CFI there are no new students to grow or maintain the system .. nothing new there .. and without the CFI there are no new ratings issued for instrument, multiengine, and all the endorsements required at the various levels of a pilot's experience. 


So I renewed. I still harbor the dream of teaching my grandchildren to fly and local pilot friends challenge me with questions that keep me on my toes, which is good for me and, I hope, for them. Another local CFI of my vintage is a great counsel as well and we compare notes often. It is a fine fraternity (or sorority, as several of my CFI friends are women) and I am glad to remain in their company.



Friday, August 14, 2020

August Rain, etc

 Well, here we are in August 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, an election year, and I'm not sure which is more topsy or turvey. On the one hand, the COVID 19 virus has sure put a damper on society and the economy and on the other, the upcoming election has aroused a lot of people. No matter .. we airplane nuts just keep on flying and building and fixing and find a lot of stress relief in the good old-fashioned way.

The wet grass on the runway is host to a gaggle of geese, dining out, Half the time they don't bother to move when we taxi out or land and we have to shoo them off.

Did I mention so far in August (here it is the 14th) we've had almost 10 inches of rain? The duty thunderstorms roll in over the mountains after lunch and eventually make for some pleasant hours on the mower.

There have been some poignant farewells this month.

Bil (one L) Kransteuber and Bill (2 Ls) Howe
Photos borrowed from the WNC Air Museum website.
Two great guys. Both Bil and Bill were long time members of the Western North Carolina Air Museum and Bill was serving as President at the time of his passing. We celebrated Bill first with a Saturday morning breakfast at the Museum, a successful monthly event Bill and his wife, Ruth,  started. B (2 Ls) had his ashes spread from an airplane at the Museum; the ceremony had to be delayed for an engine that wouldn't cooperate and Bil was celebrated later in a family ceremony.
Ruthie, Queen of the Spatula, at her post

Coffee, juice, fruit and homemade desserts

Socially distant, but only geographically. Is there a better way to remember friends gone west?

Meanwhile, at the Fairweather Flyers headquarters we keep on keeping on, where we enjoy our small, sometimes impromptu gatherings and talk small talk about big things like Steve's landings and Brian's Taylorcraft and Owen's radios. The hangar radio might be operational this millennium but Brian provided his aviation band receiver to bridge the gap.

Keep on Flying!