Saturday, July 24, 2021

The End of the Affair, but not the Love

 Some time back I wrote that an airplane restoration is like a love affair: Any fool can start one but to end it requires some considerable skill, not to mention a measure of regret.

Our introduction. At first, I had no idea what this airplane was.

Then you do a little dancing, a slow dance to be sure, and you're hooked.

You spruce her up over 3 1/2 years and you take her home to Mama ...

... and Mama and her whole family come out to see her, and approve.

Then comes the day. You're getting older and find it harder to get in and out of the airplane. Your strength is beginning to wane a bit and makes hand-propping more and more difficult. It's time to find a new machine more suitable, and you do. But there is that tinge of regret at letting go of a one of a kind, one that was once a glamor girl on the cover of a magazine and a trophy winner among others of her generation.

She appeared in at least three magazines in her fresh, new-old look

One day, the CallAir Cadet is gone; Sold, but with silver linings around those clouds of uncertainty. The man who bought it for his family earned his private pilot certificate in an Interstate Cadet, the parent of the CallAir, in the 1950s; and not only his private, his commercial certificate as well. We had talked, off and on, for over two years.  You get to know someone you've never met over that long a time. He is the right person, with the right family and the appreciation for a fine machine, to take her from me.

My telephone friend I never met sent his Grandson to fly the CallAir to her new home

Tail tied down, one last flip of the prop ...

... Those last minute words ...

... and she's on her way.

Grandpa said "You know what sold me on your airplane? The tailwheel."
He liked the original tailwheel Interstate used for their airplanes.
I think there was more to it than that. He bought it sight unseen. Once the Cadet was home he wrote, "It's nice." That said a lot from a man who has lived airplanes all his life and passed his love down to his children and grandchildren,

So yes, she's gone, but not forgotten and never will be. I don't think I've been as attached to a machine as I have been to this one. Perhaps it's because this airplane was a forgotten verse in the old song of classic aviation that I decided to bring back to original and then some. There are no regrets at having done that, no regrets about the time and money spent and certainly no regrets knowing that the right family will be taking care of her.


The first time I saw and heard her in the air was the last time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIqOvO4Zx3k


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Getting back in the groove

 This weekend the weather was a pilot's dream .. not too hot, not too cool, calm-ish winds and nary a cloud in the sky. The bumps weren't even bumpy and that made for a great ride in the CallAir Cadet from my home base at the Western North Carolina Air Museum in Hendersonville NC to Morristown TN, just across the mountains.

My friend Bill, in his Light-Sport CTLS, gave me a 15 mile head start and passed me abeam Snowbird VOR, despite my best efforts. The CallAir has the terminal velocity of a barn door .. once at cruise speed, there you are. (My Stratus ADSB-IN displays on an iPad - he eyeballed me but I never did see him 2,000 feet above, no doubt laughing).

Once past the "escarpement" (Bill likes to use words like that) I tried an old trick to get an extra couple of klicks worth of gofast, putting the CallAir into a shallow descent while maintaing thrust, but no dice. He was pulling off the runway at KMOR ahead of a Swift on final as I entered the pattern.


Looking just one way toward the antiques/classics there were a lot of interested people on the ramp. I'm guessing 35-40 airplanes in all, 7 of them from our EAA chapter 1016 at Asheville. The experimentals were behind me and I completely missed the opportunity to get a picture of them. Well, almost.


This F1 Rocket was perfection itself .. what a magnificent airplane. The workmanship is just incredible. 

All in all a great day. The ride home was the reverse of the outbound course and it was still fairly smooth despite being 1,000' feet lower and closer to the ridge tops. I don't think I've been low-level in this part of the woods for a very long time, if ever. After a year of very little activity it's really nice to get out and see new faces, forget new names and share in the one thing we all love - Flying!








Thursday, May 13, 2021

First EAA Meeting of 2021


 
My local EAA chapter scheduled the first meeting of 2021 (actually, the first meeting in a year and a half) for May 11. The weather was forecast to be fair and warm, the enthusiasm was running pretty high and food was bought for 50 with hopes we'd have to make a run for more. Volunteers, usually hard to come by, were eager to set up.

Then, 3 days before the meeting, hackers disrupted the fuel supply for most of the east coast by worming their way into the software of the Colonial Pipeline Co. People rushed to buy fuel and pretty soon it was 1974 all over again. (For those still relatively wet behind the ears, there was a fuel crisis for real back then that lasted for months). Our members had second thoughts but we pressed on with the meeting and counted 14 meal tickets in the jar when all was said and done. A week later and the crisis is averted - at least for now.

The program had to be truncated a bit owing to a distant presenter using his better judgement to stay home, but we got in most of our agenda and we can say it was a start. 

Until June 8: Build light and strong, fly safe, keep well.





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/