Saturday, July 14, 2012

Just what I needed, another airplane!

I just couldn't resist this. I've been in the low and slow tailwheel airplane fram of mind recently. So, when this little Starduster became available, I flew the RV-7 with my son, Alex all the way to Hartford, Wisconsin to check it out.  After a very brief inspection and taxiing around the airport, I bought it. No fuss, no muss, just give it to me.  Well, I actually have to go back and get it next week, since I can't fly two airplanes home.

Murky conditions along the route.
I almost didn't make the trip after checking the weather this morning at 4 a.m.  Lots of color on the radar with a convective sigmet over my route just west of Chicago. But there was a pretty good window which just required about a 30 mile deviation over to Davenport, Iowa. I filed an IFR flight plan, leaving Dewitt Spain at about 0530.  So, with the help of my trusty Garmin 696 with its XM weather radar (and some very helpful air traffic controllers who allowed me to deviate as I needed), Alex and I launched and made it to Hartford in a little over 3 hours.

Convective sigmet means deviation.

I enjoy this type of flying, too. That's the thing about aviation, whether it's speeding along cross country playing cat and mouse with thunderstorms, flying the pipeline in the helicopter, or just poking along in a little open cockpit biplane, it's all just so much fun!

The previous owner of this aircraft recently passed away. I promised his wife that this little plane has found a good home with me, and I mean it. I feel like I've adopted someone's pet. I can't wait to get it home!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Time Machine

It wasn't flying this baby that made me sweat.
I think of this airplane as an airborne version of Dorian Gray. Somewhere there must be a painting of N96710 in its real state, aged, wrinkled and faded from the years. It sits now in its hangar across the taxiway from my own hangar seemingly frozen in the condition in which it was shipped from the factory in 1946.  Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it's a real nice specimen nonetheless!  Anyway, the current owner, my friend, Glen, is kind enough to let me fly his airplane so that I can practice my stick and rudder skills.

This is your basic day VFR airplane!
There are no bells and whistles here. In fact there is not even a battery, so the aircraft must be hand propped to start it as they did in the old days.  Tie the tail down (or have someone sitting in the left seat to apply the heel brakes), pull the prop through about four times, make the mags hot, and she cranks with a quarter turn of the prop. The 65 horse Continental purrs.

I owned a Cessna 140 of similar vintage for a few years, and I must say that this airplane is much more pleasant to fly.  The landing gear is a bit firm compared to the Cessna, but the pitch forces on the control wheel are much less, making it easier to land.  So that's what I did - a bunch of takeoffs and landings. I prefer the wheel landing rather than the three-point landing preferred by others, but this plane will do either easily.  I am a lucky person to have friends that, for some reason, want me to fly their airplanes!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Flying to Cedar Key

The Garmin 696 shows a little weather.
The nasty (39 degrees and raining) mid December weather in Memphis depresses me enough to load up the RV-7 and, accompanied by my wife, fly south until we can find some warm air. So, after checking the weather, I filed IFR direct to Cross City Florida.  We stopped there for fuel, because our destination, about 30 miles southwest of Cross City, has no fuel.
Cedar Key is one of a number of islands located off the west coast of Florida.  The city has an area of about 2 square miles. Fortunately, there is a small airstrip located on the island.

Leaving Memphis, we were on top of the clouds at about 5,000 feet. Early winter flying in the south is some of my favorite. The air is still relatively warm, with freezing levels up over 10,000 feet, making IFR trips safe and comfortable. This is a lot different from summertime flying, where large cumulous clouds are to be avoided.  At 9,000 feet, the outside air temp was about 35 degrees, rising to the mid forties as we traveled south.  For the most part, we enjoyed a very smooth ride.

Short final to KCDK
After refueling at Cross City, we made the short jump to Cedar Key in about twelve minutes.  The 2,300 foot strip is in pretty good shape, and it's plenty long for the RV.  How nice of them to have this landing strip just so we can come down and eat clams and hang out!  As I mentioned above, there is no FBO or fuel services here, but there is a tidy little ramp to tie the plane down on.

Romeo Victor tied down

The island looks as tiny as it is. It's home to a little over 900 residents. The "aquaculture" here is primarily clam farming

Raoul ferries us to our motel in a golf cart.

We had made reservations for lodging, and the managers there are a nice couple named Raoul and Teresa.  Raoul came to the airport in a golf cart to transport us and our few bags the two miles to our destination.

Our motel turned out to be a delightful change from the standard Hampton or Holiday Inn type accommodation.  It reminded me of the little motels we stayed in when I was a child. The room was small but clean and comfortable.  And Teresa and Raoul went out of their way to make us feel at home.

Although the skies were a bit overcast when we arrived, the warm temperature of Florida lifted our spirits.  We stretched our legs and took a walk, covering the whole town in about twenty minutes.

Dinner was at the Island Hotel and Restaurant, a well known bed and breakfast and restaurant.  The  Grouper Piccata was excellent. 

The next morning was sunny and warm. So we took advantage of the beautiful weather to take a more extended tour of the island on our bicycles. For lunch we stopped at Tony's to sample the world championship clam chowder. Definitely the best I've ever had.

That evening we were able to see the annual Christmas boat parade with "Santa Clams" on his own float. Finally, dinner at The Island Room, where I finally had my fill of clams. Stuffed again!

All too soon, Sunday morning came, and we winged our way back toward Memphis.  A steady headwind of about 15 knots prompted a fuel stop halfway at Prattville, AL to stretch our legs.

All in all, it was a great way to escape the cold and spend a day and a half.  We will keep Cedar Key on or list of favorite destinations.

For more pictures:  Cedar Key Photos

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Boston Terrier saved

My daughter, Rachel, picked up this little guy from the Memphis animal shelter on Tuesday. On Thursday, I flew him to Tullahoma, TN to meet his foster, Sue Hall.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mr Boston finds a home.

This was a pretty short trip. I left Memphis and landed in Paragould, AR to pick up Mr Boston, a little Boston terrier bound for a new home.

Terry was the lady who delivered Mr Boston to the airport.

Mr B and I flew to Corinth, MS, where he was picked up by Tanya. He then continued on to his new home in Alabama.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mr Bingley moves to Florida

Mr. Bingley is a nine year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  He got the old heave-ho after the arrival of a new grandchild in the house.  Fortunately for him, there was a nice lady in Merritt Island, Florida who wanted him. So, we loaded up the RV-7 and Mr. Bingley was off to his new home.

I love small dogs like this.  He made the long flight very well, even weathering a bit of turbulence on the descent through the Orlando airspace. As you can see, he's very happy to be home.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ten Gallons Per Pound

That's about what it took to fly Audrey, a whopping two-pound yorkie,  from her rescuer in Greenville, MS to Corinth, MS where she will get all fixed up and ready to ultimately be adopted.  She sure is a cute little thing...and very friendly!   Here are some pics of the participants.
Louise Burnside, of Burnside Kennels in Greenville, MS

Tanya, daughter of Janet Seago in Corinth.
Yours truly and Audrey