When the weather is just a little too iffy or you just feel like swapping stories with friends, the hangar of
any airport is the place to be.
On these pages I will be sharing stories of my life and those close to me as it relates to flight. Sit back and
As we grow, we see things differently.
I'm sitting here looking at a photo of Yellow Bird. I've seen this same photo many times and today I see it as I've never seen it before.
Last night I worked on laying down the pattern for the rudder. Laying out the pattern took a little over an hour. Putting a few pencil lines on a sheet of plywood did more to me than start the process of building
the empennage, it has allowed me to see the Skybolt on a deeper level. Yesterday I saw a Skybolt, flat and one-dimensional on
the screen before me. Today... I see beyond the overall beauty of the biplane, Today I see the curve of the tail in it's complexity. What appeared to be a perfect circle before is now an imperfect circle by design.
As an outsider you can see the form of a plane; it's beautiful lines, the curve of it's airfoil, it's graceful stance on the tarmac.
As a builder I see the beauty at a deeper level. I visualize the lines of the drawing, where and how these parts are made and put together. The pieces have a past that flash before me as
I look at the individual parts.
I can only assume that there is another, deeper level of seeing a plane as the designer/creator of it... forming an animate object from an an idea.
I'm back... May 12:
BACK up in the air again, that is. A little hiatus... bad weather, airport not returning my call repeatedly... other plans... more bad weather... much too long of a time to not be flying. That's what I get for selling my T-craft.
All I had to do before was look up in the sky, say it's nice to go flying AND GO !
Check in with the Weather Channel. Wind from the NNE at 10 - 15. Runway runs East-West. Shouldn't be too much of a problem landing. Take-offs are never a problem. It's the landings that get you.
Stepped out the front door. The wind is blowing a little harder than I expected. Not a problem. Get to the airport and see what it's like there.
Pulled out front of the FBO at 9AM. Grabbed the keys to the plane and did my usual don't-miss-a-thing pre-flight check of the 172 spam can. Not bad looking from the outside. Looked like a bear
had at it on the inside of it. Ya'd think that paying $90.00/hr for a rental would give you something better looking than this. It just isn't so. Sad... isn't it. OK... pre-flight done. Checked the
windsock, wind blowing more or less down the runway. Jump in, fasten up, start throwing switches to get this puppy up and running. A couple shots of primer, master switch on and I crank... and crank. Master off... let it sit for
awhile. Master on and I crank.. and crank. Damn ! Long story short. One of the instructors, from across the tarmac, held up one of his hands. Came over and told me that if I continued doing that I'd wear the battery out. I thought..
"No crap. What do you think I am, an idiot ??" He did the exact same thing as I did with the same result. (Go Figure, huh.) Told me I needed to wait 15 - 20 minutes before trying it again. I'm thinking.."yeah right." Another instructor
came over tried throwing a few different switches and got the same result. I think that's Webster's defintion of an idiot.
I finally got a 180 hp 172 that I could use for a half hour. Fine with me. I just wanted to get back up in the air. A much better looking aircraft... and an extra 20 horses to boot. Nice...
Did my don't-miss-a-thing pre-flight pre-flight AGAIN. I love doing my pre-flights though. Gives me a chance to become intimate with the plane I'll be working with for the next hour or so. I'd rather take the time to get to know it before I
start her up than when I'm up at 1000 feet. Everything looked OK, full fuel, kicked the tires, oil at 7 quarts, nicks filed out of the prop, two wings and a tail. Yep... we're ready to go. Jumped in, threw a few switches, punched a few buttons,
pulled and pushed a few levers, master on, crank the prop and she began to purrrrrr. Sweet sound of music to my ears.
Religiously going through the checklist everything checked OK. Release the brakes and we're moving towards a good time. Taxi to the far end of the field, winds are favoring zero niner zero. Tach to 1700 to check the carb heat and mags check. One last
check for traffic and I pull her out. "Cross Keys Traffic, Cessna 172 taking active, departing zero niner zero. Throttle advanced to the stops, gradually turn yoke into the wind, release the weight off the wheels, the 172 reaches 55 knots and we
shake loose the hold that earth has on us.
As we climb I notice that about 5 miles out it begins to get a bit murky. Visibility not that great this morning. Best if I stayed in the pattern anyway. Back on the ground I heard the jump plane getting ready to release the jumpers so I'm scanning
the skies for little patches of color falling back to earth.
Those extra 20 horses really makes it a nice climbing plane. Climbing up to 500 ft I begin my right turn, staying in the pattern. Passing through 800 ft, "Cross Keys Traffic, Cessna 172 turning
downwind for zero niner zero. Reaching 900 ft, throttle back to 2100 for a few seconds before I need to pull it back to begin my decent. Still scanning I see a few jumpers to the north side of the runway just touching down... a few scattered jumpers just
decending through pattern hight.
Even with the edge of the runway numbers, carb heat on, throttle back to 1700, gradually pulling back the yoke, dialing in 80 mph, first 10 degrees of flaps, "Cross Keys Traffic, Cessna 172 turning base for zero niner zero."
I like keeping it close, high and steep. Just before I turn base to final I bring the flaps to 20 degrees, "Cross Keys Traffic, Cessna 172 final for zero niner zero." We're still 700 ft and we're not that far off the edge of the runway.
Another 10 degrees of flaps, nose pointed at the end of the runway,we're coming down like a carrier pilot, airspeed 70 knots. Another 10 degrees and I have all 40 degrees of flaps in. (The decent rate feels like that of a chopper.) Bring up the nose
to bleed the airspeed to 65, 60 and we're crossing the threshold, I can feel we're close to the stall, pulling back just above the runway the stall warning horn sounds mains touch first followed by the nose wheel brake hard while retracting flaps
turn off of 2nd exit ramp.
I don't need to tell you how great it feels to be flying.
Stayed in the pattern for the half hour, practicing my carrier approaches. Nothing like ringing out the airplane for all it's worth. I was just glad the only other plane in the pattern that morning was a jump plane which comes in at the same
steep decent. None of those drivers dragging it in from five miles out.
If all went to hell after leaving the airport. It's still considered a great day.