Posts tagged ‘Flying’

Windsock maintenance

Windsocks take a lot of abuse from the environment and eventually they need to be replaced. 

Windsock Replacement and Cleanup

This windsock has been in duty for four years and with the exception of two hurricanes, it has not been lowered.

It was time to bring down the mast and replace the windsock.
The new windsock is 8′ rather than the old 6′ sock. It is also of a lighter fabric. I doubt the new one will hold up as well as the first but time will tell.

In addition to replacing the windsock, it was time to cut back 3+ years of growth.

The new windsock is more visible and should provide a few good years of service before then next intervention.

Another runway morning

RWY03 at 6AM
RWY03 at 6AM

Maintaining a grass runway is a lot of work but sometimes, just the ability to look at it, makes it all worth while.

A swimming hole in Freehold NY (1I5)

IMG_3236I wanted to go fly and the weather was looking good for some “leg stretching” so I decided I’d equip the Devastator for a long range bombing run with 62 gallons of fuel and head north! The destination is a little airport in Freehold New York, just south of Albany. It’s a public airport that doesn’t see too many visitors these days. It sits right near a ridge line so it does Glider training when the occasional student drops in. The trip is just 300 nautical miles from home. That’s easily in range of the RV-8 but since the fields does not sell fuel, it would be 600 nautical miles round trip. I was going to be pushing the total trip time so the option to avoid a fuel stop somewhere along the way was a good enough excuse to put the new AUX tank to use. I packed the plane, tossed in swimming trunks and a towel and set out for the 2hr flight … yes, 300 nautical miles in about 2 hours – RV’s a very capable airplanes ! The trip was uneventful and after a bit of a bumpy decent after the small mountain ridge, I was on final for 1I5 (Freehold Airport). I opted for the deteriorating paved runway because I could not tell how soft or long the turf was. It was a good call because the turf had not been mowed for a week or so and was long. I guess the local group was already planning to do some flying because about as soon as I landed, they mowing tractor pulled out to start cutting the turf runway. The Devastator was safely on the other side of the runway, near the “soaring shack”.

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After chatting with Randal and the other soaring staff, It was time to get down to the task of swimming. I caught a ride in one of the golf carts over to the easiest access to the river. After a quick change into the proper clothing – Randall said they occasionally have “clothing optional” swimmers take advantage of the river – I carefully made my way down river a bit. They’ve had a lot of rain so the river has swollen and was moving pretty quick. Turns out that made the requisite “photographic proof” easy !


There I am ! …  and again, and again, and …

  After the swim, and while I warmed up – the water was COLD! – I had a quick box lunch (all they way from the jungle).

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Erik’s smoked lamb sandwich – yum!

Well, Nick was waiting patiently at home so there was no more time to be spent on the ground. I did my pre-flight, run-up, and was soon back in the air … using the newly mowed turn runway ! A little more than two hours later and I was on short final for the home field. An easy flight. A cold swim. And a great way to burn up about 30 gallons of gas!

Pilots Visit 53VG for the Airport Bum’s 50th

I wont go into a lot of details for now but I wanted to post several pictures of airplanes … because what better way to celebrate turning 50 than to have a bunch of guys fly in, eat food, and tell tall tales !


Six line up for their photo!



A fly-by, hello, and happy birthday on the radio, but could not stay



Ralph starts the arrivals



Bruce helps control mosquitos



Bill’s co-pilot is ready with a camera



Agent Orange









Jack, all the way from the west coast (but not just for the party) …



Vlad, waive for the camera


Wrong view for the camera !



"you grab ahold, like this and then …"



Sunrise … but the overnight pilots seem to have missed it for some reason …



I earned my Russian 50 year wings !

Thanks to all the pilots who made the day so much fun. Thanks also to all of my local friends who came out for a night of great food and wonderful conversation. I pretty nice way to celebrate turning 50 !

the White ‘crete of Dover … Air Force Base

KDOV, more widely known as Dover Air Force Base is a prominent land mark at the north end of the Eastern Shore. It is home to some very big aircraft. It is also a military base so it’s not found in most general aviation pilots’ log books. That changed for me on Saturday.

The base hosted its first MACA (mid-air collision avoidance) safety seminar and fly-in. The opened the event to 25 airplanes. Thankfully, a fried or a friend emailed me the details and I was certain to get my paperwork in as quick as possible.

The event was organized with military precision. I was issued flight instructions and an arrival window of 07:46 to 08:01 ! I was worried about being late so I made sure to take off with plenty of time. Too much time in fact. Good thing the RV-8 can fly slow … 80kts slow!

Rather than lots of words, here are some highlights of the day in pictures …


06:40 preflight and ready to launch – woohoo!

up, up and away … pretty quiet on the radio.

A quick pass to see the recent wind damage to the barley crop. The wind damage looks like someone clawing at styrofoam.

Turns out I’m not alone – wave hello to Carter who is already at work, spraying.

after an hour of SLOOWWWW flight, I have the airport in sight

waiting … waiting … waiting for the runway to arrive

on the numbers … I hope 12,903′ is enough runway


Once on the ground, we were escorted to the safety seminar. It was packed with lots of good information about the airspace, their flight operations, and and what their controllers need to deal with. It was interesting to visualize that the Washington DC SFRA and the Philadelphia Class B airspace create a funnel of GA traffic aimed right at Dover’s training area.

After the safety session, we had a series of tours including the tower and TRACON facility, a C17 and C5 (inside and out), and Dover’s cargo handling capabilities. These guys and gals MOVE FREIGHT – lots of freight!

On the various tours, there was a lot of hand signals mixed in with the briefs. I don’t recall what this signal means but it was right before the bathrooms.

Time to go up in the tower .. this one has an elevator (the old one didn’t)

The tower has the best view ! On this day, identical twins were supervising.

I didn’t even notice the rubber duckies until I saw Vlad’s post ! .. I have one in my plane but you’ll have to wait to find out why.

A tower view of the flight line.

An a C17 is cleared for takeoff. It didn’t need much runway – wow!

They needed a bigger hanger – this one is movable ? Backing the hangar away from the plane.

I’m a lot older than the guy who usually occupies this seat.

You could build an airplane inside this C17!

You could build an even bigger airplane in this C5!

If you are wondering, we are looking up at all of the control cables that run fore and aft in the C5. But the really interesting bit is what is above those cables – the cockpit, sleeping berths for 12, a galley, head, eating area, and then coach class style seating for 78 !

Inside the cockpit of the C5 – Who said military aircraft are bland? Bright happy colors?

Under the C5 – This guy makes landing gear exciting !

The C5 landing gear is amazing. In normal operations, the main gear retracts, folds, and slides sideways into storage. For loading operations, both front and main gear can be configured to let the airplane “kneel”!

Back at the museum, there are my favorite engines – ROUND … and lots of them.

… a Stearman and a very un-aerodynamic glider.

The day is wrapping up and time to launch. “cleared on course” and right over the flight line !

Less than an hour later and I’m on short final for home.

What a great day – thanks KDOV !

Indeed, the entire staff that organized, hosted, and presented were great. They really were happy to have us visit. I got a lot out of it. They say they want this to be an annual event so watch for the announcement for 2015!

I’m a pilot and no one calls me Smokeboy

This is a journal entry from 11-December-1996. I hope, by now, the parental statute of limitations has expired …

WELL … it’s 1630 and I’m back from my solo x-country but without the plane. 45 minutes into my flight to Alice Intl. via Corpus Christi, I started to smell smoke. It was like burning electrical wire and insulation. Within 15 seconds, smoke was visible through the instrument panel and then a balloon puff of black smoke wafted out from under the panel followed by a lesser amount of gray/white smoke. The engine gauges were out.

I immediately shut down all electrical (turned off the Master switch). While my ground school has taught me the engine does not require the electrical system to stay running, there was a moment of surprise followed by relief. I then did my best to clear the smoke through the vents. I turned all the switches off and then brought the master back followed by tentatively turning one of the radios back on. The smoke didn’t continue so I called the last radio contact, Valley Departure, and announced the situation. “valley departure, Cameron 11. I have an situation – an electrical fire with smoke in the cabin”. “Are you declaring an emergency?”. What seemed like a long pause but likely a fraction of a second, “yes”. They requested intentions. I indicated my intent to attempt a landing at Port Mansfield, a small narrow single uncontrolled runway. Departure requested aircraft identification, number of person on board, aircraft colors. They then gave me a vector to the airport, approximately 360 and 2 miles. I had the strip in sight and they approved a frequency change so I could announce intent to any local traffic.

I had a go-a-round as I realized I would have a strong crosswind landing, in excess of anything I had attempted before and the the Tomahawke wanted to float on the landing. (I later realized that it was in excess of the aircraft limit of 15kts.) It didn’t add any margin of error that the runway was 3200ft and only 40ft wide oriented 12-30 and the winds were at about 200/15G18KTS. I had a little bit of bounce but I kept in on the runway and brought it to a stop.

After taxiing to a park space, I shut down and contacted SWFTS. They were already aware of the situation and had dispatched someone to get me. Within 5 minutes, two sheriff, state, local, an unmarked, and EMT were on the scene with fire enroute. They cancelled fire and ambulance. I gave a statement to the sheriff and shortly there after, the area had cleared out. One of the EMTs, about 38, raggy haired, bushy beard man wearing sandals (a nice man, pleasant helpful ‘local’ kind of guy), chatted for a few minutes and then gave me a ride up to a local store so I could get a soda. I then called FSS to close my flight plan. I had already called SWFTS and asked that they contact tower and advise that I was on the ground. In about 15 minutes after returning to the plane, I saw an aircraft overhead. It did the same change of approach I had, deciding on runway 12.

After landing, out stepped my instructor, Brad – a chief flight instructor, and Eddie – one of the mechanics. Brad’s comments were of surprise that I put it down on the runway and managed to keep it on the asphalt. He also was surprised by the amount of crosswind I held. Adam was skeptical about the smoke until Eddie opened the aircraft and Adam smelled smoke from the tail area. Everyone debated the problem and Eddie finally found that the panel light switch had burned, along with the circuit breaker and the under voltage switch, then the voltage regulator and finally the alternator. We couldn’t get the plane restarted so after contacting SWFTS maintenance, they sent up another mechanic with parts. Brad and I took off with the Warrior for Brownsville.

On the way back, Brad let me fly and had me do some interesting maneuvers. He had me fly heading and altitude with only the rudder and throttle. I had to maintain altitude and vary heading. It was a good exercise. All too soon we were back at KBRO.

As I am writing this, I can still smell the electrical smoke; it’s in my clothing. There were a bunch of funny moments. Shortly before takeoff, Adam instructed me that if I landed at any other airport, I had to inform him, since I was only endorsed for the ones on my flight plan and T31. Also, he said I should never allow smoking in an aircraft. When I got back, dispatch was calling me Smokeboy. My name was already changed on the dispatch board. They had made a magnet namecard (usually reserved for the instructors).

It’s now 17:50 and I’m finally starting to wind down. A slight head ache is setting in and I’m expecting to feel completely wiped within an hour. Adam wants a night flight but I’m feeling that by the time we’re ready to fly, I won’t be in any shape for it.

I won’t be able to write much about it but I wanted to note that it seems somehow strange, bizarre, and ironic that I am at flight school and I am watching a series on “the learning channel” called “Survival in the Sky”, all about flight accidents – pilot error, equipment failure, and weather. Imagine, watching a series on so many horrific accidents associated with a skill in which you are being trained. A little dimented wouldn’t you say …