Archive for the ‘Aviation’ category

Crosswind Component

April 8, 2008

In my pilot’s logbook, dated 16 October 2004, is the Clint Eastwood of logbook entries. It simply says: Poker Run, winds 270 at 25 – gusts to 34

Here’s what it doesn’t say.

It doesn’t say that I arrived at my hangar at Carbondale airport early that Saturday morning and preflighted the Acro Sport in preparation to participate in the EAA Chapter’s annual Poker Run. After pulling the plane out and buckling in, I started up and tuned to the ATIS while the engine came up to temperature. I let the recorded message play through a second time, as I wasn’t sure I had heard the wind announcement correctly – but second time around didn’t improve my hearing, he was still calling 270 at 25 with gusts to 34.

Well, okay – I’ll think about that on the long taxi from the T-Hangars to runway 24.

The log entry also doesn’t mention that I waited at the entry for 24 while several airplanes attempted to land and failed to do so, going around to try again – and once more failing.

My takeoff, while somewhat less than perfect, was still not bad – considering the 30-degree, 25-knot crosswind. I noted that it took a lot of crab angle on takeoff, and gust turbulence was a bit above moderate. Climbing into smoother air and turning toward the first poker card pickup at Pinckneyville, I tuned the radio to the Sparta AWOS to get a better feel for what Pinckneyville winds might be.

270 at 32! That’s in knots.  Ouch! This is going to be fun – 90 degree crosswind and blowing somewhere between what I’d estimate at 30 to 39 miles per hour with the gusts.

Straight in approach to runway 36 at Pinckneyville, at about a 30 to 40 degree crab into the wind and the left wing down quite a bit. Straightened it out with right rudder at the flair and it set down pretty easily. Surprised me – and the taxi into the ramp was actually more difficult than the landing – taking a lot of rudder and several brake “taps” to keep it straight. Picked up my poker card and off to Benton for the next stop. Might as well get the two hard ones out of the way. There was a fleeting moment on takeoff where I wondered exactly what I was doing . . .

Nowhere in the logbook entry does it say anything about the super-fast downwind trip over to Benton, or the radio traffic from a light twin that attempted and failed three approaches into Benton due to the winds.

Again a rough, cross-controlled final approach to runway 36 at Benton with a 90-degree crosswind. However, this time as I straightened everything out at flair, the wind lifted the Acro up into about a 10 foot hover and turned it about 45 degrees from runway heading. Feeding some power in, it floated in this position for a second and just as I thought I might be able to ease the power out and settle it in, the bottom dropped out between gusts, and we plopped down pretty hard, headed across the runway. Our forward speed was almost nothing and we just continued a U-turn and taxied in for our poker card.

Takeoff was another “grit-your-teeth” affair, and on to Mt. Vernon where the 150 foot wide runway 23 was almost directly aligned into the wind. I managed to get about four bounces while landing at about a 30 mph ground speed. What should have been the easiest landing turned into the worst.

On to Harrisburg where I found the wind tee pointing about halfway between runways 24 and 32. Attempting to be analytical about this, I chose to use 32 due to the large trees on the north of runway 24 just at the touchdown point. I figured there would be a lot of turbulence there and I preferred to take my chances with the steadier crosswind I thought I’d find on 32. Landing must have gone all right, as I really don’t remember any details. My memories of Harrisburg are filled with doing a magneto run-up while building the courage to depart. I remember checking the mag drop while listening to another plane on the radio trying to decide if he should attempt to land – when the metal lid on a very large dumpster by the airport office was blown off and flipped end over end across the parking lot and into a field.

As I shoved the power in I was wondering if a better idea would be to look for a storm shelter.

Long, upwind trip to Marion where we met for a hangar cookout and where I found I was the only aircraft to fly all five airports. Most people were smart enough to know when to quit, and only made one or two airports.

My poker hand?

I had a nine high card!


Happy Day to you, too.

July 24, 2007

What to do? What to do?
Dilemma day once again this year.

Last year I got an Italian superbike for my 64th birthday but I must have slept through the lead-in period, and failed to have any fresh ideas for this year. After some spousal nagging last night about what I wanted for my birthday, I did get on and ordered two books through their used book section along with a ”Stealth” TV remote.

Although this little item is inexpensive at best, if it works as advertised it should be nearly as much fun as the Tuono (well, not really, but . . .) It is a very small, key chain sized remote control device that is supposed to be able to control volume, on & off, and channel changes on almost any television.

Obviously, the geeks who came up with this little device are aware of one of my personal pet peeves and a prime candidate for 101 Uses for Napalm – that being televisions in public places, especially waiting rooms at hospitals, doctors, etc. Very little activity worse than sitting listening to that garbage. Hey, our vet’s waiting room has a TV that always seems to be tuned to Maury the Moran. Even our golden retriever, Sophie seems to cringe from exposure to that. Now comes the Stealth TV remote for a quick end to all that. We’ll see.

Of course to really celebrate the big 65th, I took my little carbon fiber clad, titanium accessorized Italian mistress to the airport this morning. Naturally we detoured along one of my favorite stretches of asphalt that supports a couple of sweeper curves followed by a mile or so straight section, devoid of roads, driveways, houses, etc. and bordered on both sides by large open viewing areas of approaching rabbits, deer and hard-shelled June bugs hell-bent on killing you. There we engaged in my best don’t-try-this-at-home-kiddies imitation of the Matt and Ben show by exiting the last sweeper with the front wheel lifting well into the 140’s

. . . and this just transportation to the airport, where I traded the Aprilia for the Acro Sport and puttered over toward the river bottoms in the hazy, cool morning air and played with a few loops, a couple of aileron rolls and a botched hammer-head.

Back before noon to write this up and think about what to do with the other half of my birthday.


Wandering Stepchild Returns

November 12, 2006

I conceive and give birth to these things, but they leave home and make their own way in the world – sometimes with less than optimum results; thus the return of the youngest with a mangled left leg and foot, as well as a broken wingtip and assorted other more minor scrapes and bruises.

This photo was taken just after we completed the engine installation before it left home a couple of years ago. I didn’t even get a photo of the thing with the wings on before it was returned for repair and some redesign.

 I finished this Skyraider for a friend a couple of years ago and it finally got away from him on landing and ground-looped through a ditch to suffer a little damage. We moved the fuselage back into my shop Friday to began a repair and redesign on the landing gear. Seems Bill H. has decided to call “Uncle” on the tail wheel and I am designing and will build a nose wheel in an effort to remove some of the “cotton mouth” landing syndrome. Of course, I’ll have to build a new landing gear leg first – to replace the broken one.

Looks as if we’ll be back in the airplane “bidness” for a while – at least while waiting for the motorcycle racing season to restart in march.

“Right Stuff?” Take this test

January 18, 2006

Do You Have What it Takes?

I have often heard someone comment that they would like to build an airplane but just weren’t sure if they had the skills or dedication that it would take to do so. After a little thought, I came up with a quick test that will immediately tell you if you have “The Right Stuff” or if you should stick to lesser hobbies.

Take this easy quiz and see where you land. Be honest with yourself.

(1) It’s 2 PM and you’re welding up the rudder. You realize you’ve worked right through lunch and you’re starving. You:

a. Stop work and go in for some of last night’s left over spaghetti.
b. Drive to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal
c. Call for pizza delivery.
d. Keep working while you eat the dog treat you found on the workbench along with a paper-wasp nest from the corner.

(2) While wiring the instrument panel, you remember that tonight is your son-in-law’s birthday party, and you haven’t gotten the BBQ grill that your daughter said he wanted. You:

a. Stop and go to Wal-Mart to look for one.
b. Go in and search the Internet for a mail order, one-hour delivery.
c. Call your wife and ask her to get one on her lunch hour.
d. Take two firebricks from your welding table and top it with a wire shelf from the workshop refrigerator.

(3) Your wife’s poodle needs surgery that costs about the same as those Cleveland wheels and brakes you’ve saved up for. You:

a. Give her the money for her little precious and start saving again.
b. Call the bank and ask for a loan for the surgery.
c. Start looking in Trade-A-Plane for a cheaper set of wheels.
d. Pop a cap on the dog and order the wheels.

(4) While welding up that heavy tube cluster at the axle-landing gear joint, you begin to smell cloth burning. You:

a. Immediately pull off your goggles and look for clothing on fire.
b. Shut down the torch and systematically locate the source.
c. Run like hell.
d. Don’t stop, continue the weld . . . those big clusters take too long to heat up.

(5) Uncle Milt passed away and services are today. However the DAR just called and can be here in an hour to inspect your project and issue the airworthiness certificate. You:

a. Telephone the DAR, explain the circumstances and ask him to reschedule.
b. Get dressed for the funeral and hope the DAR finishes in time.
c. Contact the funeral home and see if they can stall the service for a while.
d. Hey, Milt ‘il be dead for a while. Do the thing with the DAR . . . fly over the cemetery on one of your test flights. Offer to take Aunt Minnie along.

(6) While trimming the aluminum on the cowling, you badly slice your finger. You:

a. Drop everything and head for the Emergency Room.
b. Look in your medicine cabinet for butterfly bandages, gauze and peroxide.
c. Wrap it in a shop towel and vow to look at it later.
d. Let it bleed, you can use the blood to mark the aluminum when your marking pen runs dry.

(7) Your roll-around toolbox is:

a. Adorned with the latest Playboy centerfold.
b. Covered with stickers announcing Snap-On, Craftsman, etc.
c. Pasted up with EAA, Sport Aviation, US Aerobatic Team stickers
d. Marred up with handwritten notes regarding prop diameters, dihedral angles, and landing gear camber notes.

(8) You take your wife out for dinner on her birthday. You:

a. Wear your Armani suit, club tie and take her to the dinner club.
b. Don a clean polo shirt, khakis and off to Patti’s at the lake.
c. Put on your new T-shirt with the RV-6 on the front and head for Red Lobster
d. Wear the old shirt with the welding burn holes, dried Poly-Brush and wheel bearing grease stains, as you run though Wendy’s drive-through. Hey, got to get back for the third coat of silver on the tail surfaces.

Score one point for each A answer, 2 for B, 3 for C and 4 for D (get the picture?) Now add up your score and compare to the list below.

10 points or less – this is how Tiger Woods got his start. Or you may consider wine making.

10 to 19 points – Just maybe, maybe you might try model railroading, certainly not up to even model airplane standards yet.

20 to 25 points – Okay, try one of those quick-build, practice tail kits.

25 to 32 points –Get a set of blueprints, you just may be ready.

35 points or more? – You have cheated or can’t count, but you’ve found your calling. Design and build that jet. The sky’s the limit.

Consumer Reports

August 12, 2005

I noted this morning that the governor signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to impersonate a pilot . . . also to purchase pilot uniforms over the Internet (?) Now that brings up a lot of questions.

Will Jay Leno and others be arrested when they do those inebriated co-pilot jokes? Are we real-men-type pilots supposed to be wearing uniforms? And what on earth is that poor bunch of losers at Pinckneyville going to do for a hobby if they can’t pretend they are pilots?

Speaking of those losers . . . I was slumming last weekend and stopped by PJY to listen to the regularly scheduled BS session (sort of like going to the zoo) when right in the middle of everything, play-pretend pilot, chemical-weapon-of-mass-destruction facilitator, and all around YDS*, Hubie, jumped up to apply a fine mist of some type scented spray over the group.

Some investigation revealed that he was using a generic form of what was labeled to be Bullshit repellant that some idiot was attempting to market. I say idiot, not because of the gross mis-spellings and dastardly degenerative degradation of the King’s English in the highly descriptive and detailed labeling on the can, but because the stuff was so poorly researched that Consumer Reports would have laughed it onto the joke page.

Why, if the stuff had really repelled BS, the label would have been blown off the can upon attachment . . .as it was BS in its purest form. Of course what really made it look stupid was the fact that basic physics had been ignored. You just cannot spray an aerosol-based application onto a crowd of professional BS distributors. The huge amount of hot air produced by such a group immediately carried the spray into the upper reaches of the hangar rafters where it probably lingers today.

Come on. Let’s get it together people. If you really want to market a product, there was a rather large space in the paper this morning devoted to advertising a product called Lucidal, which (according to the ad) would help prevent mental problems, including, but not limited to “Brain Fog”.

Lucidal. Now there’s something sorely needed at PJY.

*You dumb shit

Sophie’s Health

May 12, 2005

Those of you that have been following the plight of my Golden Retriever’s health after having been exposed to several episodes of WMD type gas will be happy to hear that we finally have some good news.

At one time we thought all was lost and that “The Big Sleep” was in store for Sophie. Now her physiatrist has zeroed in on the real problem and the diagnosis is not as bad as we had feared. Originally the doctor was pretty certain that Sophie had suffered some severe nerve damage due to breathing the gas and even commented that he had not seen such a severe reaction since World War I casualties from Mustard gas exposure. However, after some extensive testing and psychoanalysis, the real problem has been identified.

All of us who have been around Huby for any time at all are familiar with his, er. . . well, his problem? And we all know what the results are. Now poor little Sophie, being a dog, and wanting to do as all dogs do when they come across something dead, they roll on it. Naturally, when Huby cuts loose, the odor is indescribably foul and Sophie (bless her little dog heart) thinks she is confronted with;

The golden opportunity!

The chance of a dog’s lifetime!

The winning ticket in the canine lottery!

The Mother of All Things Dead!

And what to do but. . . ROLL IN IT! But, no, he just keeps patting her on the head and muttering nice doggie things. He won’t hold still and lie down so she can do her God given duty.

Oh the frustration she must be going through!


Aviation Update #6

November 17, 2004

With splitting my time between working with Bill Hubenthal on his Skyraider and going for my inhalation therapy treatments (see last posting, re: Green Fog), I have not spent a lot of time on the computer.

At any rate, progress on both my therapy and the Skyraider appear to be moving along. We have the fuselage covered and are finishing up the little details like final ironing of the finishing tapes and such today.

Re-exposure of P3160421.JPG

Bert's Mini-Max

I did take a day off last week and made a trip to Southwest Missouri with Bert as he said goodbye to his beautiful Mini-Max and returned with a new toy, a Rans S-9 Chaos. We also stopped in Popular Bluff on the return, where Bert purchased an electric razor. My hearing is not the best, and Bert's truck is rather noisy, but I am sure he was talking about shaving his head to look like Jimmy LeRoy. I suppose the writing is on the wall . . . a short period to bring the plane up to his standards and then look out!

What made the trip for me was the interesting airport. This was my second visit to Mountain Grove. I brought my daughter's (at the time) boyfriend to pick up a small dog that they had acquired through an animal rescue group. As the dog was coming from further down in Arkansas, the lady bringing it agreed to meet us halfway and as I was going to borrow Larry's Tripacer, we agreed to meet at the Mountain Grove airport.

Naturally the morning of the trip opened with rain and heavy clouds, necessitating a 5-hour drive instead of a pleasant flight. Arrival at the little airport found the lady and dog waiting, and as David and I got out of the car, the lady approached us with the little dog in her arms. Stopping about 10 feet away, the dog began to run furiously as she started to set it down.

Looking like some demented, wind-up toy, it pumped it's little legs as hard as it could until it's feet reached the ground, where it seemed to spin it's wheels for a second before getting the traction to run as hard as it could toward David, where it immediately nailed his ankle and began shaking his head side to side while growling and chewing on his ankle.

So much for pets.

Back to the airport. It is a collection of old and new hangars, run by a guy who looks a lot like Vern LeMasters, except with gray hair and beard and bib overalls. Talking to him, you soon find he is no dummy and has several thousand hours of flight time, much of it in ag-planes. His wife is also a commercial pilot and flies one of the fancier Cherokee models with floor mounted video and digital still cameras, photographing crops for the Farm Bureau or some similar agriculture organization.

The collection of airplanes that we saw ranged from several Cherokees, down through an interesting cobbled up Champ that had the cockpit section cut down to a single place with a canopy and the wings chopped down and remounted in the mid-wing position.

My favorite was a homebuilt that was stripped down for recover. Made completely of welded aluminum. A large, 5 or 6-inch square tube served for the main spar as well as the center boom for the tail. Welded to the spar were aluminum tube ribs with tube trailing and leading edge pieces welded to the ribs. Landing gear was also welded up aluminum, although I didn't notice what the spring configuration was. The wheels were huge, small- tractor wheels and tires about twenty inches in diameter, with an equally large tail-wheel. Side by side seats that looked like they came right out of a small car gave the impression that the whole thing was a dune buggy with wings. It would have been equally at home in pre World War Two Russia or one of Mel Gibson's Road Warrior movies.

In the "Small World" department, conversation about the S-9 Chaos led Bert to mention that he had taken an aerobatic ride with Matt at one time. Referring to Matt Bohme, who was the friend of, and flew with Ty Englehardt.

The Vern LeMasters look-a-like replied with, "Ask Matt what he thinks of this S-9, he has seen it."

Bert and I kind of looked at each other with a, "How did he get into this conversation? This guy isn't part of our bunch and doesn't know Matt."

Well it seems that Matt's grandfather lives in Mountain Grove and hangs around the airport a lot. He knew exactly who we were talking about when Matt's name was mentioned.

My very favorite part of the trip was when his wife asked if we had met the "security guard" yet, and pointed at a rather derelict Cherokee in the back of the hangar where we were disassembling the S-9. Either Bert or I asked if there was a cat living in the plane.

She replied, "No, it's ashes."

"What, is that the cat's name?"

"No it's really ashes, in an urn."

Oops! Seems as if some lady from Ohio had flown the Cherokee in several years ago and left it in the hangar. In the seat is an urn with her husband's ashes . . . still.