Denise and I went up into the mountains of Central PA to see what this gliding stuff was all about. Go here to see what we saw.
December 6, 2007 Facing the truth...
Today, on the biplane forum, I read a post by Eric (an Acro Sport builder) talking about keeping track of hours and whether or not you were building to get a plane done and finished or you were actually building for the
joy of building.
The post brought back a thought I had when welding up one of the rudder pedals the other day. I originally started building my Skybolt, counting hours until the time I was finished... (still keeping track of those hours for my log.) But, the other day, as I was welding, a thought occured to me... could I like building planes as much as I like flying? Kinda scared me. I actually didn't want to think
that something could actually come close to my love of flight. Just as fast as it came into my thinking I shoved it back into one of those void spaces in my mind. Happy and content that I was still a pilot and
that nothing could come close to me and my love of flying since I can remember.
Just now, as I read that post by Eric, I thought of the many years I've been searching for something that would be on an even keel with flying, maybe even replace it... whitewater kayaking, sailing, motorcycles, jumping outta planes, SCUBA... none of them even came close. Here/Now, was I confronted with a passion that equaled my passion for flying and I didn't want to face it? I actually, without any thought to it... tried pushing it out of my head. It wasn't until I read that
post by Eric, that I realized, at that moment, that I was buidling for the sheer joy of building. I was as much a builder of planes as I was a pilot.
July 28, 2008 Oshkosh... another one here
I haven't been to Oshkosh since, I think, 1995. Always a great time going there; the people, the planes, the air show.
There is so much to learn from all the forums. Now that I really need to go... for the learning... I fight with the idea of going.
I'm between a rock and a hard place. I figure it'd cost me between $700.00 - $1000.00 to fly out there, get to Whittman Field, camp for the week, eat and be merrry. My delima is... go there for the week or spend that hard earned cash on buying the tailwheel for the plane along with some nice instruments.
For instance...Right now, I haven't a clue about banging solid rivets. Haven't a clue on how long they need to be. Haven't a clue on cutting them down, or even if you should cut them down. Through my Goggle search, I found a few sources for information. Found that there is a definitive resource on the topic of riveting, it's MIL-SPEC 47196A. It's the bible that was developed for the US Army Missile Command. And it's the same publication that General Aviation uses today. (I digress... as usual). If I went to AirVenture, and attended one of their forums on riveting, I'd know what to do and how to do it. Or, at least be well on my way to knowing what to do and how to do it.
Well, AirVenture is happening as I write this, so you know my decision on that delima. Figure I'd save the cash and start talking to some RVer's about banging rivets and making use of the knowledge around these parts of the woods. The knowledge is here in my "back yard," but I've never really talked to any of the local builders about building an airplane.
Come to think of it... I actually did talk to Paul Musso, but it was more catching up on the past than talking about building.
August 8, 2007 Back in the saddle again... Different saddle, but a saddle just the same...
You put up with things... until, just like the proverbial camel's back... it finally just breaks down. The local FBO, a case in point.
Ever since I sold my T-craft, my only source for flight was to rent from the local FBO that had a few old 152s and 172s sitting around. OK... so they're tin cans but they put myself and Densie up in the air on a rare occasion. Which brings me to this discussion.
The scene is similar to this:
I call the FBO... they're short handed and nobody is in the office to take a message or put me on the schedule so I leave a detailed message. That was on Tuesday. Friday rolls around and no return call, so I call again. I leave a message again. Saturday rolls around, no return call still. I get in my
truck and take the half hour drive to go see them in person to see if I can get on the schedule when I walk in the door. I arrive at the FBO and everyone is gone up flying with students... they'll be back down in an hour. (like I have an hour to sit around waiting to see if I can get on the schedule, which by the way, is in a computer program that the guy at the desk can't access.)
Days like this turn in to weeks like this turns in to months like this. You get the picture. I continue the same scene... I finally get through ! and NOW I need to go up with someone again to get checked out because it's been so long since the last time I rented. You can see my frustration.
This only helps push me in the direction that I've been wanting to head since I sold the T-craft. The direction... find a place, within driving distance, that will allow me to rent a taildragger.
After a little Google searching I find two places within "driving distance." Not close, but I'll accept "not close" as long as the benefits out weigh the expense. I decide that Van Sant is an airport that fills that bill.
After checking out their website I was optimistic in that it would only be an hour and a half drive to get there from my place. Close to two hours from the time we pulled out of my driveway, Denise and I am are driving parrallel to Van Sant's runway 5.
It's a pilot's dream. I'd buy a house across the street from it tomorrow if I could.
Nestled in the backwoods surround by tall oaks and pines. The landscape rolling out in all directions... along with the runway.
It couldn't have been a nicer day. Just about reached 80 on a mid-August afternoon (more like a mid-September afternoon). Low humidity and slight cross wind from the west. Maybe a little challenging, seeing I haven't flown a taildragger for a few years, that along with the cross wind
and runway that looks like a roller coaster. I'm up to the challenge.
Denise and I had planned to arrive early so that we could watch the biplanes and sailplanes as we ate our lunch. Taking a little longer to get to the airport than expected, we didn't eat before my flight, Denise and I took the time to walk around and check out some of the older planes that
they had on the field. As we walked up to the the fenced in picnic area we spotted several of the biplanes that they had mentioned on the website; a Stearman, Tiger Moth and Great Lakes. All beautiful planes from the past.
It wasn't much longer after our abreviated walk that I needed to check in with Sport Avaition Inc to see what the plan of action was. Mike, my CFI, was still at lunch, so the woman at the counter asked me for my
credentials; proof of citizenship, driver's license, medical cert and pilot license. Two out of three ain't bad, is it ? One, I didn't realize that I should have brought some sort of proof of citzenship... I'd been living here all my life. hmmmmmmm..... Had my medical cert, no problem, and my driver's license, no problem, and my pilot license...
lets see, it's in my log book cover, no, hmmmm... maybe in one of the pockets in my flight bag ? not in this pocket, not in this one either, or this one... nope not there, hmmmmmm... gotta be somewhere... just not here with me today.
A two hour drive and me without my pilot cert. wooohooo ! In the 33 years that I've been flying, I've never had this problem... here I am two hours away from home and it's an issue. Knew I'd still be able to go up and fly, just wouldn't be allowed to fly by myself today. No problem, other than finding that damn license.
All the necessary paperwork taken care of, Denise and I step outside to wait for Mike. A few minutes later a guy in a baseball cap comes out the door calling my name. He finds me ane we sit down to discuss my prior experience and talk about the checkout flight. We agree to meet up at the J3 in a few minutes to go over pre-flighting it.
Other than locating the drains, one being a flexible tube coming right out of the fuselage fuel tank the other just under the Continental 65, nothing out of the ordinary. The paint on the old bird was a little worse for ware
but it was just like any other Cub I've seen. Mike says to hop in. After climbing in I strap the belt on, hold the brakes, crack the throttle and turn the mag switch to both. One turn of the prop and she's making that sweet sound that a 40's era airplane makes. music to the ears....
Denise brought her "fully charged" camera, and since there are only two seats in the cub, plays photographer for the training session. She got a lot of pictures of me learning in the J3.
Mike climbs in and we wobble out to the rolling hills they call a runway. We S-turn behind a Grob G109B motor glider, following it to the runway threshold; runway 05. We do the run-up as we wait for the Grob to take-off.
After the Grob has climbed out we take the active. Mike says he'll take it off the first time and to follow him through. It's a stick, something new to me. A slight wind from the northwest so we add a little aileron in to compensate. Throttle forward and we begin our ride down the slope of the runway, picking up speed gradually as the tires, outlining the runway, slide by. The tail of the Cub comes up, just after we have full throttle, with a little forward stick. (compared to my Taylorcraft, that had an 85 in her, it takes quite a bit longer to get rolling down the runway)
We lift off and Mike tells me that I have it. "Climb out at around 60 and make your cross-wind turn when you get up to 900 feet." It seems like it's taking forever to get up to 900 feet, not seems, but actually is taking forever. In the Cub's defense, I'm not here for a rocket ride to the heavens. I sit back to enjoy the view as we climb steadily toward 900 feet. With the side window up and door hanging down it's a picture window view of the tree tops below.