Cape Cod .

After having excellent weather flying here last Tuesday and then again on Wednesday when I gave my friends rides, the weather has not been so good.

AC_20130628_screenshot_lifrIt rained on Thursday and here is a screenshot of the weather at the local airports and along my route back to Maryland. This is from Friday and the “LIFR” is a reference translated means “low instrument flight rules”. The worst category this program will display. It has not improved much since then.





AC_20130630_chatham_fog_01I just checked on Niner-Zero. She is tied down at Chatham Airport. If you look closely you can see that even the seagulls are not flying. They are all parked on the runway. the visibility is about 3/4 of a mile and the ceiling is at 200 feet. The weather is not supposed to improve today (Sunday), perhaps some tomorrow. I am hoping to be able to get out of here on Tuesday. The forecast is for the fog to burn off by 9:00 AM on Tuesday and that will allow me to get on my way. The weather off the Cape is not great but flyable. I only need to be inland about 15-20 miles to escape the fog but that is not possible on Cape Cod. So, I wait.

Cape Cod

AC_20130626_Cape_Code_aerial_01It took me just under four hours in two hops to make it to Chatham Airport on Cape Cod. The last portion of the flight was incredibly beautiful. This is a picture of the south shore of Cape Cod with the airport visible at the top of the picture. I flew here on Tuesday and the weather was great. It was also good the next morning when this was taken but has gone down hill since then.

AC_20130626_Hank_Noah_flying_01This was taken yesterday when I took all four members of the family I am visiting for a ride in Niner-Zero. This is Noah taking a picture of us while we fly over the ocean just south of Chatham. He took the controls for a while so I could open my door and take some pictures. Like the one above and the one below. He was a quick study and  was able to fly the aircraft pretty well so I was able to take lots of pictures.

AC_20130627_Cape_Cod_aerial_02Here is another one taken south of Chatham. The weather is lousy today and it looks like a front is going to stall along the coast almost exactly on my route of flight back to Maryland so I may be here for a few more days. The visibility is pretty good right now but the ceilings are forecast to be low for the next several days. There is a really nice low altitude route back to Maryland along the coast. Too bad all of the controlled airspace around New York makes it nearly impossible to fly safely and legally!

Flying Commercial

When I was planning this adventure I figured that after about three weeks I’d need a vacation. So several months ago I bought a ticket from Baltimore to a small town in Colombia where I could visit with a friend and her family and relax in the country.

Columbia_2013_102The ticket was on Spirit Airlines and although the fare was reasonable I was restricted to carrying one small carry on bag. This is the bag I took and anything much larger would entail a $100.00 fee, each way! Also, I was told that they don’t even serve water for free. But cheap is cheap and I took the bait. I arrived at BWI at 5:00 AM for a 7:00 AM flight, checked in and went through security. At about 6:15 they announced the flight would be an hour late, about the length of my lay over in Ft. Lauderdale. I went to the counter and they told me I would not make my connection and gave me two choices, go the next week or have my money refunded. Yikes! the next week was not an option so I had to take the money. I figured I would not be going to Colombia but decided to see if there was any other options that I could afford. I sat down, logged onto the free internet and started searching.

Columbia_2013_001I found a flight on Avianca for not much more than my discount fare on Spirt! It departed from Dulles that afternoon, required an overnight in Bogata and a return through El Salvador. But I jumped on it and headed to Dulles. I had several hours to kill so after arriving I took the shuttle to the Air & Space Museum and spent a couple of hours there. On my return I checked in for the flight. Here you see the amount of baggage that can be taken on Avianca at NO extra charge. When the greeter saw my small bag she thought it was odd but sent me to the front of the business class line to check in even though I was not flying business class. I think she was relieved that she did not have to wrestle my bags onto the scale to be weighed. The flight was great, the food was good, the wine was good, the airplane was new and comfortable and nothing cost extra.

Columbia_2013_044So, by the next afternoon I was here. This is the view from the porch of the house we stayed in. Behind the house were the Andes Mountains and although they were visible, the peaks were always shrouded in clouds.



Columbia_2013_007The place was beautiful and we all had the best time. Swimming, walking, eating, relaxing and  . . .




Columbia_2013_093Riding. Yeah, that’s me, on a horse! Something I had never done before but was able to do almost every afternoon while I was there. We rode through the orchards and picked tangerines and ate them while we rode. We went down to and crossed rivers and would stop in small towns for a few beers before riding back to the farm. The place was stunningly beautiful and I had a wonderful time.

But, all good things come to an end and I am back in Maryland now. I took Niner-Zero for a flight this morning. My niece, Joanna, wanted a ride so we flew out along the Wicomico river for  about 30 miles and then headed to the Salisbury airport where I topped off my fuel tanks. Then it was back to Bennett Field were I tied her down. Tomorrow it is time to get back to work. I plan to leave around 7:00 in the morning and fly to Cape Cod. It should take about three and a half hours. I am staying a few days with some friends who spend their summers there. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

First Ride in Maryland

AC_20130611_spencerI finally got to give someone a ride Tuesday evening. My cousin Spencer had the honor. While we were taxiing out to the end of the runway I asked him how much he had flown and he told me that he had NEVER been in the air before. Although, he let me know he had spent a lot of time flying Microsoft Flight Simulator. I told him that did not count because his ass had never left the ground. Here he is with his hand on the controls while I try to take a picture of him He did a pretty good job once he got the hang of it.

AC_20130611_sunset_viewSince I had a copilot I was able to open my door and take some pictures. The water in the background is the Chesapeake Bay. The island is all marsh with no dry land at all. A great place for fishing and crabbing I am sure. We were flying over the eastern side of the Nanticoke River when I took this picture of the sun setting in the west. Did not come out as nice as it looked when we were there. Was much more dramatic.

AC_20130611_spencer_after_flightThis was taken after we landed. We flew for just over an hour and Spencer seemed to enjoy the entire flight except perhaps for the steep turn demonstration. He became a little unsettled which is not unusual for his first experience with increased “g” forces. Two g’s in this case. This gives an idea of the view when the door is open. The black strap in the upper left is used to pull it closed. Sometimes I fly with my door open for the entire flight. The airplane handles the same but I keep the speeds down. Believe it or not, it is not that windy at all with the door open but it can get chilly.

AC_20130612_small_village_02I got back in the air yesterday morning for a couple of hours and spent much of the time with the door open. The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is home to dozens and dozens of small settlements clinging to small patches of dry land far out in the marsh but closer to the bay. Some are on islands and only accessible by boat. This one is connected to the mainland by a long narrow road over the marsh. Only a few feet above sea level, these roads flood often. Being out at here puts them closer to their livelihood, the Bay.

AC_20130612_small_village_01This is the same settlement and you can see the road stretching across the marsh. I think the structure that can be seen in the water just off shore is a “Shed House”. They enclose floating pens that contain hard shell blue crabs that are close to being ready to shed. This is how they grow and when they shed the new shell is soft for a few hours. They are collected at this point and become the “soft crabs” that are part of the local cuisine. We had smaller pens of this sort that we kept tied to our pier when I was growing up. A smaller version of the same operation seen here.

AC_20130612_farm_on_creekI took this picture as I was heading back to Bennett Field.  An old farmhouse by a creek that meanders towards a river and then the bay on the horizon. Driving up to a farm like this you might not even realize how close the water is. It never seems to be far away.


N06, Laurel Delaware

The weather was flyable yesterday. Finally. I flew the seven miles up to Laurel Airport. I instructed there back in the 1980’s. The airport is still there but is now home to a Skydiving operation.

AC_20130609_fuel_rampThe part of the field where the flying school was located is pretty much abandoned. Our fuel pump used to be located in the center of this circle and the still visible yellow paint was the hold short line when taxiing to the pump. To the left of Niner-Zero, one of the small tie down pads is still visible. They are all empty now. Back in the day we had the school airplanes here, two Cessna 152’s and a Piper Archer. Several others were rented by airplane owners so there were about half a dozen airplanes tied down here. Beyond my plane is the grass runway. Still there and still in use.

AC_20130609_Laurel_loungeOur pilot lounge is still there but is now used by skydivers in need of a place to crash, so to speak, for the night. We had the perfunctory propeller over the fireplace and actually heated the room with the wood stove in the winter. The rest of the building is much the same, falling apart. Held up mostly by termites. Most of the hangars have been turned into training and repacking areas for the skydivers.

AC_20130609_loading_skydiversThis is where the action is now. The skydiving operation. Very organized and high volume. They can take about a dozen jumpers up at a time. Here they are getting loaded up for a flight to about 11,000 feet. That was the base of a high overcast layer. Takes them about 20 minutes to get to that altitude.


AC_20130609_skydivers_01The drop zone is just across the runway from the old flight school. After landing they gather up their ‘chutes and head back to the hangars to repack them and while that is going on another group of jumpers is climbing into the airplane for their turn. And so it goes, weather permitting, from about April to November.


AC_20130609_trailersThey have turned part of the airport property into a trailer park for the jumpers. This is just behind the hangars and there is another area further down. I was told that some people keep their trailers here so they have a place to stay when they spend the weekend jumping.


AC_20130609_ag_planeOne operation that was present back in the 80’s is still using the field. Crop dusting. There were a couple of planes coming and going, spraying the local fields. I often see these guys, both here and in Texas on the way to and from the fields. I am always looking down on them because I don’t think they often fly much over 1000 feet. An old ag pilot I asked about that back at Laurel Airport about 30 years ago told me if he flies much higher he gets nose bleeds. I THINK he was joking.

I’m glad the airport is still in operation and the staff of the skydiving operation were very welcoming. I landed, parked, took pictures and watched the skydivers for awhile. Then I climbed back in and took off.

AC_20130609_marsh_02I flew out to the end of the Wicomico River and followed it back up towards Salisbury at about 1000 feet. With the door open so I could take pictures. The Eastern Shore of Maryland is quite beautiful from the ground but being flat the views are pretty uniform regardless of where you are. But, from the air the view is breathtaking. The same flat terrain allows the rivers, creeks and marshes to reach deep into forests, farmland, towns and villages. From the ground you often don’t realize that one is never vary far from the tidewater. This picture is of a random creek along the Wicomico River. The river is at the bottom and the creek reaches up into some trees edging up to farmland.

AC_20130609_white_haven_01This is the village of Whitehaven Maryland. In a different life I spent a lot of time here. I had a sailboat tied up to “T” shaped pier in the center. The rain from Tropical Storm Andrea has flooded some of the fields in the background. The village was settled in the 19th century but the ferry, visible in this picture, has been in continuous operation since 1688. Pretty amazing. There is a car on the south side of the river waiting for the ferry which runs on a cable and is free. Near the ferry dock on the north side is a beautifully restored hotel that originally opened in 1899. A very peaceful place to stay in a very secluded village of historic homes.

As I write this more rain is falling and there will be no flying or site seeing today. I have yet to give a single ride to anyone! I must do something about that, soon I hope.

A Tale of Two Texans

AC_20130608_cowlings_off_01I didn’t get to fly yesterday but I did get out to see how my airplane was holding up to all of the rain. A little bit of water had leaked but not much at all and the tape job was holding up fine. I went out this morning to fly but first I wanted to pull all of the cowlings off and see how everything looked. Make sure nothing was leaking or rubbing or just didn’t look right. It took about 10 minutes to get her to this point, with all of the cowlings and the turtle deck behind the cockpit removed. I removed the turtle deck to mop up a leak and to take a close look at the control system. Everything looked fine.



AC_20130608_cowlings_off_02This is what the engine compartment looks like with all of the cowlings off. I looked at everything very carefully. As I was starting to put everything back on I saw Mr. Bennett heading over in his golf cart and since I was sure he would be interested in seeing my Rotax engine I took the cowling I had back on off again. The Rotax 912 is a rather new aircraft engine and is very different the Continentals and Lycomings that are in most small general aviation airplanes. For one thing, the heads are water cooled which is a departure from tradition. It is also a high rpm engine that is geared down to drive the prop instead of a low rpm engine that directly drives the prop.

AC_20130608_rain_on_windshieldAfter I got everything put back together and the aircraft preflighted I went flying. I was relly looking forward to doing some takeoffs and landings on the grass runway. The wind was calm and I took of on runway 35 since it involved less taxiing. Then after landing I just rolled to the end and took off in the other direction on runway 17. No wind, no traffic, no problem. The I saw some rain showers approaching from the southwest. So I landed, taxied to my tie down and shut down thinking it would pass quickly. It didn’t and before long it was pouring down rain. I stayed in the airplane because I did not want to get wet getting to the car. In about 45 minutes it let up a little and I tied her down, taped her up and went to Mr. Bennett’s hangar.

AC_20130608_texan_01This is what lives in his hangar, a T-6 Texan. Actually two of them. This one is fully restored and in flying condition. He has owned it for 43 years. He is restoring another one. The Texan is a military trainer that first flew in the late 1930’s and was used extensively during World War II. The airplane is metal but the control surfaces are fabric. The same fabric that covers almost all of my airplane.

AC_20130608_texan_02Here is the Texan that he is restoring. Some covering fabric is draped over the horizontal stabilizer of the flying Texan. It is visible in the foreground of this picture. Mr. Bennett bought this airplane as a wreck and most of what you see here is new. The wing pass through is brand new old stock and all of the sheet metal is new. The wings have had all of their sheet metal replaced and are stored in another hangar. He has the cowlings off the flying Texan to allow him to use its hoses, cables and fittings as patterns for the one he is restoring. I often wished I had a flying version of my airplane available when I was building it so I could have done the same. I often scoured the web for pictures posted by other builders when I could not figure out how to install some part.

AC_20130608_texan_engine_01Today he was working on the Pratt & Whitney 1340 Wasp Radial Engine. This engine weighs about half a ton (way more than my entire airplane!) and will be mounted on the aircraft under restoration. It puts out 600 horsepower. I find it inspiring that people like Mr. Bennett not only restore these aircraft to pristine condition but also fly them.  Especially considering the risk associated with taking them into the air. These airplanes are over 70 years old and are antiques by any measure but also fully functional and, of course, beautiful. Living history.

The rain had not let up so I headed back to my mom’s house hoping the weather will improve tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to visiting some of the airports I flew in an out of in the 80’s.

Tropical Storm Andrea

This morning it became apparent that we are in for some really wet weather. When I went camping a few weeks ago I found out that my airplane leaks in the rain, but because of that experience I know where she leaks. I have a cover on order that will solve this problem but it won’t be ready until next week. So with Tropical Storm Andrea headed our way I decided to see what I could do about the leaks. First I went for a quick flight back to the “big” airport to fuel her up and then I flew back and tied her down again. Too nice a day to not go for at least a short flight.

AC_20130606_ready_for_andrea_01Then I got a roll of removable painters tape and covered the areas that I know leak and then for good measure covered a few other areas that may leak if we get a lot of wind. Mr Bennett came out with some new ropes and we tied her down really good.  I’m sure some water will leak in but it won’t hurt anything. the worst weather will be late tomorrow afternoon through tomorrow evening. Tomorrow is Friday and I’ll try to check on her at some point.

Delayed Start for Day Two

AC_20130605_Foggy_at_PSK_01There was no reason to get up real early for my second day out as I needed fuel and the airport would not open until 8:00 AM. Even so it was very foggy and even with fuel I would not be able to leave. But I’m not on a schedule so I just hung out at the airport in the pilot’s lounge and worked on the blog and did some flight planning. I got a ride into town for lunch and by the time I got back the weather had cleared enough for me to depart. Although flyable, the weather was not great. Also I was in an unfamiliar mountainous area. The good news was that the weather improved to the east so it should improve as I progressed.

I departed at about 12:00 and headed east. The ceilings were low but none of the mountain tops were obscured. Even so I followed a highway towards Roanoke and contacted their air traffic control about 20 miles out as I wanted to fly through their controlled airspace. To avoid it I would have to fly further south and over higher terrain. When they had me on radar they asked if I planned to just follow the interstate to the east. I guess they are used to having airplanes headed into their area over the highway as roads usually follow the lowest path possible. I told them that I  would soon be turning away from the highway and would be passing well south of their airport before continuing east. That was pretty much how it went. The ceilings were low but the visibility was excellent. I was always in a position where I had places in site I could glide to and land if the engine quit and the views were incredible. Before long I passed out of their airspace and they told me that at my altitude they would lose radar contact in about 10 more miles. Shortly after that they told me that radar service was terminated, squawk VFR, have a good day. Basically they were done with me and I was on my own. Now I could listen to some music!

The ceilings kept rising and I climbed along with them. After about an hour I could see that both fuel tanks were just below full so it appeared that there would be no repeat of yesterday’s excitement. I passed north of Lynchburg and Richmond Virginia and then things got a bit more complicated. There is a lot of restricted and prohibited airspace in the Washington DC area and even more around the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. I had programmed my GPS with a series of waypoints that would allow me to thread my way through all of this without having to talk to anyone. I just had to be careful to stay on my planned course and at my planned altitudes. By this time I was at 7,500 feet and wanted to stay at that altitude until I had flown across the Chesapeake Bay. I wanted to be able to glide to dry land if anything went wrong. That was fine but a restricted area required me to descend to below 3,500 shortly after crossing the bay. So after crossing the bay I made a quick ear popping descent to 3,200 feet and continued across the wetlands of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

About 20 minutes later I landed at the Salisbury – Wicomico County Airport. The main airport serving the town where I grew up and an airport I actually instructed at almost 30 years ago. The flight school was still there although no one I would remember is still around. I found out they wanted $10.00 a night to tie my airplane down with no monthly rate available. I called my mom and told her I had arrived but would be leaving shortly and flying over to Bennett Field. A small grass strip about five miles away.

AC_20130606_bennet_field_01Bennett Field has two wide grass runways that intersect at a 90 degree angle. That intersection is visible just right of center in this picture. I landed on runway 17, passing right between the opening between the trees that border the right side of the shorter runway. When I landed two family friends, Alan and Paula were already there. My mom had put out the word of my arrival apparently.

AC_20130605_with_momShe showed up shortly after and posed for a picture with me beside Niner-Zero. She had seen the airplane slowly progress over the years with each visit. She approved of the finished product. Mr. Bennett helped me tie her down and I paid his wife $50.00 for a month’s tie down. They live in a house just out of view on the left side of this picture and I’m sure they’ll keep an eye on her for me. Plus, this kind of airport is so much more fun to fly out of, no control tower and no paved runways.

I plan to keep her here for about a month but to take a few trips around the eastern seaboard to visit friends. But for the next few days I am going to visit with family and friends here and hopefully make good on a lot of promises I have made over the years to give some plane rides.

Over 1000 Miles on the First Day!

AC_20130604_Hangar_at_night_01To be exact, I flew 1000.74 statute miles in three hops. I arrived at the airport at about 5:30 in the morning and opened the hangar doors for the last time. The airplane was fueled up and ready to go.



AC_20130604_Packed_for_trip_01I had to load up my backpack and strap it in the passenger seat. I also have a few other items tied in with it and my water bottle fits nicely between the two. I pulled her out and by the time I was done with the preflight the sky was just starting to lighten up in the east. I usually instruct in the early morning and I would often fly with students as the sun was just coming up and always wished that I was heading out on an adventure in my own airplane. Not that I don’t enjoy instructing but so much of my flying has been for purposes other than my own.



AC_20130604_Sunrise_01I took off a few minutes after 6:00 AM and realized my dream. The sun rising through distant clouds on a beautiful east Texas morning. A short time later I was flying into blinding sunlight but, if only for a few minutes, it was magical. The weather was forecast to be excellent along the entire route and I was cruising at about 120 MPH in smooth air. In about an hour N90HS was further from home than she had ever been before. Everything was functioning perfectly. That was not to be the case for the entire day but at least it was starting well.

AC_20130604_In_flight_mealAs usual when flying, after reaching cruise altitude and everything has settled down it was time for the inflight meal. Todays selection was peanut butter on 12 grain bread and a granola bar. Washed down with water. I was glad the air was smooth so the inflight service was not canceled. There is really not a lot to do and I wanted to listen to music but I have misplaced my iPod and the cable to hook up my tablet was not easily reachable so the audio program was canceled for this leg of the journey. I promised myself that I would correct this situation at the next stop.

After a three hour flight I landed at Kelly Airport in Oak Grove Louisiana for fuel and to stretch my legs. I was welcomed by Airport Commissioner Eddie Russell. I don’t think that would happen at O’hare or Hartsfield. If I stumbled into one of those airports unannounced I would most likely be met by some other sort of official, if you know what I mean. He was most hospitable and thanked me for stopping at their airport and gave me a rundown of the restaurants and services in Oak Grove.  Eddie then helped me fuel up, I used the facilities and was back in the air in about 45 minutes.

AC_20130604_Crossing_the_MississippiNot long after departing Oak Grove I crossed the Mississippi river. You can’t do that without taking a picture, so here it is. I was at about 3,500 feet and a short while later it was getting bumpy as the day grew warmer so I climbed up to 5,500 feet and stayed there for awhile until some clouds that were forming below me started to build up to my altitude and bring the bumps back with them. So, what to do? I climbed up to 7,500 feet which put me back in smooth air well above the cloud tops. The temperature was about 60 degrees and I was getting a little chilly so I turned on the heat and it was quite comfortable. I had solved the audio problem on the ground in Oak Grove so I was able to listen to some music as I cruised over Mississippi and Alabama.

AC_20130604_descent_01When I was about 20 minutes from my destination I descended down between the clouds and back into the bumpy air. Although I liked the smooth air at 7,500 feet, the view of the ground from that height and through the clouds was not great. This was taken just as I was descending through the cloud layer somewhere over northern Alabama.


AC_20130604_Winchester_tn_01A short time later we were on the ground in Winchester Tennessee. Carolyn was on duty and she came out in her golf cart to help me refuel and tie Niner-Zero down. I went into their pilot’s lounge, poured some coffee and started planning my next leg. Carolyn got on her computer and made some suggestions and I decided that I could make it to Blacksburg Virginia and stop there for the evening. I took a loaner car into town to get some lunch and when I got back to the airport I napped in the pilot’s lounge for about an hour. I had plenty of time and the air would be smoother as the sun got lower.

On the next leg all was going pretty well at first but after an hour I noticed that although the fuel level in the left wing tank was dropping the right tank was still full. There is a 13 gallon tank in each wing and a small  “header” tank behind the seat that they both flow into. I have a fuel gauge for each wing tank. The header tank has a sensor at the top that lets me know if it is not full because if that happens I only have enough fuel for about 30 minutes at reduced power. When that happens a “low fuel” warning light illuminates on the panel. As I flew on, the left tank kept getting lower and lower and the right tank stayed full. I tried flying in a “slip” with the left wing low for several minutes to see if the fuel would flow from the right tank to the left tank. When I leveled off the left tank was still at about the same level and the right tank was still full.

About three hours into the flight the left tank was dry and I decided to land at New River Valley Airport in Dublin Virginia. Not quite as far as I had planned but I was confused as to what was going on. Then the low fuel warning light came on. THAT got my attention. I was at 7,500 feet and about 7 miles from the airport so I brought the power back to idle to conserve the fuel I had in the header tank. There was a Cessna 172 in the pattern and I was able to easily glide to the airport, enter the pattern and land uneventfully behind the Cessna without ever advancing the throttle above idle. After I landed the low fuel warning light went out and by the time I was tied down the left tank had some fuel and the fuel level in the right tank was decreasing. I got out and looked everything over and found a very large blue stain from the right fuel cap to the trailing edge of the wing. What was going on here?

I was not sure what had happened but my morning I had it figured out, or at least I had a theory. At Winchester I had fueled on a ramp that was not level and the right wing was lower than the left. I fueled the right tank, but not to the very top. The caps leak slightly so I do not fill all the way to the top. I then did the same with the left tank. I tied her down on the ramp, ate lunch and took a nap. When I did a preflight inspection I took a peak in each tank and the right tank was full to the top and a small amount of fuel had leaked out. It had flowed downhill through the header tank from the left tank. I did not think much of it and I took off for Blacksburg.

An airplane can fly because a low pressure area forms above the wing and a high pressure area forms below the wing. This is what creates “lift”. I think that this low pressure sucked fuel out of the right wing as there was no airspace and as a result is also pulled some fuel from the left tank along with the fuel that was going to the engine. The fuel that was sucked out of the tank stained the wing. 100 octane aviation fuel is blue and blue stains are often indicative of fuel leaks. After the left tank ran dry, some fuel was sucked out of the header tank and the low fuel warning light came on. Both tanks feed into the top of the header tank so only a small amount of fuel could be sucked out it but is was enough to activate the warning system. After I landed, the wing was no longer creating lift, the low pressure area was gone and fuel was able to flow back through the system to the header tank and then into the left tank. I think this is what happened but what does not make sense is that both fuel caps have steel tubes that exit the top of the caps and are bent into the airstream to alleviate just such a problem. The next morning I checked both of them and neither were clogged.

I researched the problem on the web and found that leaking caps are a common problem and that there is a cap seal gasket made by Mercedes that will cure the leaking cap problem. I ordered them and decided to make sure the tanks are not filled to the top for the next flight. Also, the next morning when I fueled, based on my expected fuel burn, it appeared that about 3 to 4 gallons of fuel had gone missing. Out over the wing perhaps?

I was safely on the ground in Dublin Virginia. I had flown over 1000 miles! I had flown into the Eastern Time Zone and had lost an hour and the airport office was closed. I started walking towards the Cessna 172 that had landed before me. It was getting dark and the pilot was gone but I saw some people and an open hangar a little further along. They were standing around messing with an old Cessna 150. I introduced myself and asked if there was anyway to get into the airport building after it closed or get someplace to eat.  One of them, Rob, was the pilot of the Cessna. He runs the flight school and there was Scott, who runs the aircraft maintenance operation. Rob was flying the Cessna to warm up the oil so they could do a 100 hour inspection. I helped Rob push the Cessna back in the hangar and remove the cowlings. They had sent out for food and made a call to add a burger and salad for me. I gave what help I could and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process.

AC_20130604_Hangar_01So, what to do for the night? I told them that I had a tent and would just set it up in the grass somewhere. They told me to just sleep in the hangar. They have a sofa, widescreen TV and a bathroom with a shower. Good deal. Here is a picture of the setup. I got my sleeping bag from the airplane and I was very comfortable. They also had some great entertainment on the widescreen, as you can see. It looks really cozy but . . .

AC_20130604_hangar_02To put it into context, it is really just the corner of a huge hangar. This was the end of my first day and I have already met some of the nicest people. Tomorrow I hope to make it to my hometown, Salisbury Maryland.




Overdue Update

Sorry about that!

AC_20130511_camping_01I did get to go camping at Critter’s Lodge. It was a great weekend and there were around 75 airplanes there. Lots of classics and homebuilts. The food was good and I met a lot of great people. I parked my airplane in a cleared area just off the runway and set up my tent. I did not have to do any cooking this time around as all of the meals were provided. Just over my right wing you can see the wings of another Kitfox. The only other one in attendance flown in Pete.

AC_20130511_camping_03Here is a better picture of Pete’s plane. This is on Sunday and he is just getting ready to leave. The aircraft next to his is a two seat biplane. Also a homebuilt. What is unusual about it is that the two seats are side by side and the cockpit is open.



AC_20130511_camping_02The weather was pretty awful right up until Friday morning. The event was almost canceled. Since the weather cleared later in the day further east, some people arrived pretty late. The runway has lights and this Cessna 150 landed at dusk. That night some more storms formed and it poured. I was high and dry in my tent and I was able to accurately determine where my airplane will leak when parked in the rain. Good to know.

AC_20130511_camping_04Here I am just before leaving on Sunday morning. Everything is packed and ready to go. All of my camping gear functioned well and I was able to carry all of it easily. Most of it fit in the baggage compartment and a few items, along with my clothes and personal item fit in a medium sized pack that I belted into the passenger seat beside me. When I head off later in the summer to camp I will probably attach the cargo pod and use it for the camping equipment. That will give me space for food and water and more than a weekend worth of clothes and I might even need some warmer clothes up north.

The next weekend I flew to Scot’s ranch for his fish fry and by the end of the next week I almost had my 40 hours complete. For the last few flights I loaded lead shot back into a backpack strapped into the passenger seat and increased the weight up to the maximum in increments. After each increase I flew the airplane to determine takeoff, landing and stall characteristics. There were no issues but she really is more fun to fly at lighter weights. After all of that was done I had flown 42 hours and I signed her out of “Phase I” testing.

I could now carry passengers and leave the 50 mile radius test area. I could also fly into Class Delta airspace so my first flight was over to CLL to show her off to one of the air traffic controllers who works the tower there. He was on duty alone so he could not come down to take a close look but I went up and talked to him. The it was back to Coulter where I gave my first ride. I took Dave up which I think was really appropriate as he and Stephen gave me so much help in the final push to get Niner-Zero complete. Stephen has already informed me that he’ll consider a ride after I have about 200 hours on her!

The next weekend I flew up to Denton, TX to have my transponder certified and I also had my prop and engine dynamically balanced. Much smoother running now. I spent the night with my younger daughter and the next day I flew her back to Coulter with me. The two hour flight was much more fun than the five hour drive on the interstate. We both really enjoyed the trip together. I have been working on N90HS since she was in second grade (I think that’s right). Now she is a grade school teacher!

So, now I’m ready. Tomorrow is the day. I am heading out on my first big trip. I am heading to the east coast, a distance of about 1200 miles, to visit family. Yesterday I changed the oil, completed a few minor maintenance items and then took a short post maintenance test flight. Then I gave her a well deserved bath, she is going home to meet the family after all. I filled the fuel tanks and put her away. All ready to go!

The weather looks perfect and I hope to get airborne before the sun rises. I should have a slight tailwind and cool smooth air at five to seven thousand feet. It doesn’t get much better than that. I am planning on taking two days to complete the trip. Finally, after all these years! Stay tuned!