Thursday, July 28, 2022

July is for Firsts

When the moment comes, we have to seize the day!


My friend, Sid, made his first ultralight flight this month .. at 90, he was thrilled. This is the same guy who helped build and then flew a LongEZ across the North Atlantic and back in the late 1980s! That was before we civilians had GPS. After a career flying Cessna 210s, a VariEZ and that LongEZ (among other types), interspersed with his day job as a neurosurgeon, Sid quit California and moved to God's country with his wife, Penny, also a pilot and a "99". Many Happy Landings, Sid!


The EAA chapter meeting had a couple of fellows from the Charlotte FSDO FAA Safety Team present a program on flights into and out of non-tower controlled fields. That was the first time in a long time that we had FAA at a meeting. The last time was an Airworthiness Representative who has since retired and moved to South Carolina. In this summer heat wave, I expect he is wishing he could be here in the mountains. South Carolina and eastern NC can be pretty warm even in a normal summer.


The morning after the meeting I was inspired to fly a Dawn Patrol over the mountains and the views were spectacular .. the early morning fog in some of our valleys was just beginning to lift and the air was clear with broken layers to keep it comfy.


Sid's now former neighbor also move to South Carolina to follow his wife's career as an OB-GYN. They had been all over the world and his flying included membership in military flying clubs in the Tokyo area and in Virginia. They've settled about 40 miles from here in Greenville and Matt completed his flight review this week at Greenville Aviation, so he's on his way again after nearly a year and a half! Of course he sent the picture above to show us how much he enjoys being back in the air.

Progress is being made on a number of airplane projects and I'm putting together plans for a revamp of my instrument panel in the Glastar, hopefully this winter if the supplier can get all their components with the shortages in the supply chains these days.

So July 2022 is almost in the books and August plans are fleshing out. More flying, more friends gathering and sharing their stories. 

Off the airfield, we had to say goodbye to a dear and faithful companion. Josie was a few months shy of her 15th birthday when she just ran out of steam. There is a hole in our hearts, all our hearts - mine, Anina's and her 2 canine pals - as we find our ways to carry on without her yet keep her spirit alive. If you've been there, you know what I mean.

Josie. 2007-2022



Sunday, July 10, 2022

Around the Patch - June 2022

 

We caught a break in June .. some really nice flying weather early in the morning when it was cool .. Winds tended to pick up in the afternoons.


Friend Sid, refugee from California and long time pilot, has been making the transition from regular garden variety airplanes like his VariEZE, Cessna 210 and LongEZ to ultralights. A broken hip put him back a little but he's back in the seat and running taxi tests as I write this at the end of June.


We had a great EAA meeting in June at a private airfield and environmentally friendly preserve owned by a fellow who has built airplanes and races his RV-8 in various venues. It was quite a pleasure to be invited into his private space. To take a look, go to www.eaa1016.org 


The Glastar went in for its annual condition inspection and came through it with no squawks at all. I'm ready to move forward with an update to the instrument panel and am just waiting for Advanced Flight Systems to help me write the specification. Fuel prices have a lot of owners looking for the new avionics to help us fly as economically as possible.


So that's about it .. the Fairweather Flyers and EAA members just keep on keeping on.

Friday, April 15, 2022

April Is Soooo Changeable

 What a difference an hour or two can make when it's April in the mountains of Western North Carolina!


Those are snow clouds a week ago (9th) .. ever since it's been in the 70s during the days and 40s at night ... Lots of rain before, a little since and tomorrow it'll be a deluge. But today .... TODAY.. it was FLYING WEATHER!


Mark and Sid took off from Hendersonville (0A7) in Mark's RV-8 and I launched the Glastar for Rutherford County Airport (KFQD) and a rendezvous at the 57A Café on the field ... Ron is a reformed ultralight flyer who whips up the groceries and it's a popular spot. The picnic tables under roof provide an unobstructed view of the runway and sharing tables is the order of the day. You never know who you might meet there.


We had a few bumps on the way back over the mountains as the breeze from the South picked up, but it was a delightful way to celebrate one of the few really good flying days so far this month.


Earlier in the month, on the first Saturday (2nd), a week before our Dogwood Winter snow day, a gaggle of mountain airplanes descended upon Morristown TN for EAA 1494's monthly breakfast extravaganza ... a very popular event for locals as well as fly-in participants .. 


The Glastar makes the 2.5 hour car trip pretty easy .. and the breakfast is well worth the flight ... where else can you pop up for 37 minutes and spend an hour or so with ~400 of your closest friends, all in good humor and eating a classic Southern breakfast?


We're going to have a lot of good flying days ahead .. y'all come now, y'heah?





Friday, March 11, 2022

False Spring, Winter With a Vengeance, it's March

 Whaddaya expect, the Bahamas?


Our false spring, with temperatures in the 70s and sunshine, was brief ... maybe a week. Now the coffee break is over and we're back on our heads (ask a grey beard to tell you the joke), the last gusts of a winter reluctant to pass are upon us. March is the month that gave the mountaineers of Western North Carolina the Blizzard of '93, vividly remembered by the talking weatherheads on TV who weren't born yet. 


What was covered, on and off, with snow is now underwater thanks to the beavers who dam up the streams that drain our airport, sending our floodwaters via Bat's Fork to Mud Creek, the French Broad River, the Tennessee River, the Mississippi and then, finally to the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans will have to wait for this and while New Orleans waits, so do we.


And while we wait, we build airplanes. Here in Steve's workshop, we learn all about fitting wing ribs to the main spar of a pretty early Van's RV-4 kit. The early kits could be challenging. The components didn't always match up to the drawings and the instructions didn't either. Today's kits are much simplified with CNC dimensioned parts, pre-drilled and matched to fit precisely right. Steve is no novice builder, having built 2 other Van's airplanes, but he confessed he had used up the beer and wine pantry trying to figure out some of the bits and pieces of this RV. Fortunately, the kit had hardly been messed with during the 20-odd years other owners had it, though some of the parts have to be replaced due to corrosion, man or mouse made.


Mouse pee does not agree with aluminum.

All in all, March is a month when we begin to see the first glimmers of spring. We fix and fiddle and tweak in preparation for a season of flying. Then some damn fool starts a war and we have uncertainty and skyrocketing fuel prices and we start to wonder if there's a conspiracy to keep us from what we enjoy doing.

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ... The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, February 04, 2022

February 2022 - Winter Has Finally Arrived

 Here we are .. January has passed and weather has been remarkably good so far since the first day of winter. Then came February.

On the day I thought - maybe - I'd fly, this was the view:

Of course

That was the first blast and it was a good 'un. 11 inches of snow overnight and into the next day pretty much took care of a week's worth of melting before I might get to the hangar, and that would depend on some sunshine. That was last week.

This week's cold front with accompanying ice, snow and rain was much more civil. The Appalachian Mountains are our friends, sometimes, and split weather coming up from Texas so the bad cold stuff runs northeast up the west side of the range and the warmer, wet stuff runs along the south slopes, generally up I-85. We're at that blue dot, middle right in the screenshot below:
Mother Nature provides us with a snowplow of sorts when conditions are just right. As I write this, it's mid afternoon, the day after this was captured, and we have sunshine forecast for the next 5-6 days. There is hope.

Fly safely . . . .






Monday, January 03, 2022

Happy New Year - 2022!

 

Caught with his pants down, Kermit awaits new sparks

The LASAR ignition system that was originally installed on Kermit's Lycoming O-360 began hiccuping, defaulting from electronic to fixed timing (as it should in failure mode) during my last flight so I made a command decision to sacrifice some of the new instrument panel money for an up-to-date hybrid electronic ignition system. The winning combination is a Kelly impulse magneto on the left side and a SureFly electronic module on the right. That seemed to be the best for me as I don't like to put all my faith in electricity. In the event of a total electrical failure (admittedly a remote chance) I'll still have sparks coming from a technology that's well over 100 years old. What was good for tractors is good for me.

The new system works very well. SureFly mentions in passing that it may seem to skip a bit when doing the magneto/ignition check as part of the pre-takeoff checklist, but I did not find it disconcerting. In fact, when I slowed the test down a little (as they recommended) the skip was hardly noticeable.

The traditional Christmas Day flight was delightful, with calm winds and temperatures in the balmy, unseasonable 70s. New Year's Day was another story. Winds were blustery aloft, leading to moderate turbulence around the valley of the old French Broad (River). It was nice and warm, still in the 60s, but I was glad to get on the ground. All was well until I put Mark's airplane back in the hangar and learned the hard way how a wingtip can grow, putting a dent in the front fender of his Porsche. (Cringe)
Of course, Mark dug into the medicine kit and put a band-aid on it

Even with the gusty winds I did ok on my New Year's Day landing. I need some work on hangar operations, though.

The nice weather didn't last. It's a couple of days later when I'm writing this and a front came through last night that was pretty ferocious. Asheville, just up the road, reported winds in the 30-40kt range with gusts to 51kts, freezing rain, then snow. Temps that started today in the 50s are now, in mid afternoon, in the low 30s and we have snow on the ground, although that's going away with the wind, sun and residual ground temperatures.

I fear winter has arrived. There will be nice days, though, good for flying when we aren't tinkering with this or that. The air will be cold and, as Gordon Baxter once wrote, fat with lift. The Glastar will enjoy it and so will I.


Monday, December 20, 2021

Ho Hum .. Another Day, Another Pandemic

 It's somehow appropriate that I'm writing on the cusp of the shortest daylight of the year. I have this mental picture of a brainless millennial anguishing over global warming, pandemics and -OMG- the days are getting longer! If it weren't for stress there'd be no sign of life at all in these people.


Longer days mean more dayLIGHT, more time to poke around airplanes and more time to fly!


My ignition system has been replaced on the Glastar and the test flight went beautifully, though my electronic tach reads half the rpm .. Steve, an engineer friend, when he heard this, said "you've been to college", meaning no big deal; multiplication is not that hard. I suppose not, even for a theatre major, especially when the "times tables" don't extend past "two". I just pretend I'm flying behind a Kinner.


Our new pandemic iteration has the catchy sobriquet: "Omicron". Apparently it is more transmissible. I'm not going to worry until it gets to "Omega", the last letter in the Greek alphabet. In the meantime there's hot chocolate in the afternoon and Redemption Rye in the evening. What, me worry?