Columbia Station Ohio

AC_20130725_Columbia_AirportI arrived at Columbia Station Airport near Cleveland Ohio just after 4:00 PM on Wednesday. I talked to my friend Ernie earlier and he had made arrangements for a hangar for me to keep Niner-Zero in while I was visiting.

AC_20130725_Hank_in_HangarErnie arrived shortly after I landed and had the key to the hangar and I parked the aircraft. This is the first time she has seen the inside of a hangar since leaving Texas in early June. There have been some bad storms in the area and Ernie was worried about the weather. It turned out for the best. Niner-Zero now has 100 hours on her and it is time for a really thorough inspection and that sort of thing is much easier in a hangar.

I took Ernie for a short flight the next day and the day after we headed out for lunch and fuel. Our first stop was the airport in Sandusky Ohio. I used to fly there over 30 years ago for lunch and we were planning to eat there. But, despite what the airport guide led us to believe, the restaurant is closed and has been for about seven years. We bought fuel and headed to Port Clinton Airport. The have a great diner and a nice aviation museum. Most of the displays are related to the Ford Tri-Motor that they are in the process of restoring. We were able to walk through the hangar that is attached to the museum and get a close look at the reconstruction. They are basically using an existing but unflyable Tri-Motor as a pattern for building an new one. An incredible amount of work.

When I lived in the area there was actually a Ford Tri-Motor providing regular service from Port Clinton Airport to Put In Bay Airport on South Bass Island. The island is only a few miles away in Lake Erie and Island Airlines billed itself as the shortest airline in the world. The Tri-Motor service ceased sometime in the mid 80’s. Right after I moved out of the area. I now wish I had taken the time to make that flight while it was still possible.

We had a great time and Ernie actually did most of the flying and did a really nice job of it. Gave me more time to look around and enjoy the view. We forgot to take Ernie’s camera along for our trip and with mine in transit I regret that we have no pictures.

AC_20130725_West_Side_MarketAfter we got back to Columbia Station we drove  into Cleveland to shop at the West Side Market. A beautiful and vibrant market built in the art deco style in the early part of the 20th century. The first several months that I lived in Cleveland I had an apartment that was not far from the market and I shopped here almost every Saturday morning. I did not have a car so I took the bus and a couple of large sacks and bought most of my food for the week. Visiting again really brought back some fond memories. Back then, Ernie was my boss. Now we are both just a couple of retired guys enjoying some of the finer things in life, flying and good food.

AC_20130725_Ernies_BackyardErnie lives in the country only a couple of miles from the airport where Niner-Zero is parked. I fixed dinner that evening for his family and we ate it on the back porch and this was the view while we were enjoying dinner and the sun was setting. Like I said, enjoying the finer things in life.



AC_20130728_Cowls_offThe next day, Saturday, was rainy and I started tearing Niner-Zero apart. I basically took off all of the inspection panels and cowlings and went over everything very carefully. I found some corrosion that needed attention, a broken exhaust spring and a few other anamolies. I checked the torque of the prop hub bolts, lubricated several items and checked for leaks. A couple of days before, Ernie and I found a small oil leak that we fixed and there was no further leakage. We also make a nice modification to the flap handle that makes it much easier for me to reach.

AC_20130728_Hank_and_ErnieBy today, Sunday, everything was ready to go back together and I took the time to clean her up some. I had picked up a lot of bugs and also dirt from flying off of wet grass strips. I went through everything in the baggage compartment and repacked the plane for departure. Ernie realized that there were no pictures of him with the airplane so we fixed that also. Tomorrow, after my camera arrives, I plan to leave for Airventure in Oshkosh Wisconsin.

Punxsutawney Pennsylvania

I departed Van Sant Airport on Wednesday morning after giving my friends rides. My first stop was Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. I bought fuel, ate lunch and spent about an hour relaxing and talking to a local pilot about the area. I also took some pictures and then left my camera in the pilot’s lounge. So, I have  no pictures to post right now. I was able to contact a local pilot and he has retrieved my camera and shipped it to me. I hope to have it tomorrow and will be able to update this post with some pictures.

AC_20130724_Punxsutawney_01So this is the promised update. My camera arrived from Pennsylvania thanks to Rick in Punxsutawney. This is really the only picture I took in Punxsutawney but there were several nice ones from Van Sant airport from the same day, in the morning, so I updated the post prior to this one also.

Off to Pennsylvania

I was able to depart Bennett Field yesterday at 8:45 AM. Pretty much as planned. The weather was good up into southern New Jersey but low ceilings were forming over the northern part of my route. I was flying up through Delaware, making a turn to the northeast after passing west of Dover AFB. Then across the northern portion of the Delaware Bay into southern New Jersey. From there, north along the eastern edge of Philadelphia’s Class Bravo airspace then a jog to the northwest for the final leg to Van Sant airport (9N1).

AC_20130722_Millville_NJ_01But, it was not to be. As I was crossing the Delaware Bay I called up flight service on the radio to get a weather update.  Trenton, NJ had 700 foot ceilings with similar conditions nearby. So I diverted to the Millville New Jersey airport. Taxied to the ramp and parked beside a Piper Cub replica.


AC_20130722_Millville_NJ_05The Millville airport is a former Army Air Field that was built during the early stages of World War II. It still looks like an old military airfield. Lots of old buildings in various stages of repair. Many have been kept up and are in use by businesses of all sorts.



AC_20130722_Millville_NJ_04They even have a museum on the field although it was closed when I arrived. I was able to take a look at the aircraft and vehicles on display outside the museum building. That had an A-4 and a Shorts 330, neither World War II vintage, along with several vehicles.










AC_20130722_Millville_NJ_02There are several new building housing aviation oriented businesses. Boeing has a facility that outfits brand new Chinooks for various military missions before delivery to the army.



AC_20130722_Millville_NJ_03Best of all, one of the buildings houses a great little restaurant that was still serving breakfast. The FBO had a golf cart available for pilots to use so I did not even have to walk across the field when I went to eat. Great service, great food and wireless internet so I was able to keep an eye on the new weather that was posted just before 11:00 AM. It looked good so I drove back to the FBO, preflighted and was in the air by about 11:30.

The ceilings were all in the 1600 foot range as I headed northeast out of Millville. I was able to fly at about 1000 feet and intersect my previously planned route. The clouds were scattered to broken at some points and through the holes I could see that they were starting to build up already indicating a stormy afternoon might be a possibility.

AC_20130722_Van_Sant_02The terrain was pretty flat until the final 10 miles or so. Van Sant airport was easily visible from ten miles out despite the haze and the fact that I had never seen it from the air. It sits on a hill just west of the Delaware River valley. In fact, the center of runway 7-25 is the top  of the hill. Here is the approach end of runway 7 and the uphill portion starts just a few hundred feet from the threshold. I touched down at a point near the center of this photograph.

AC_20130722_Van_Sant_03This is looking in the other direction and my landing roll was fairly short due to the hill. The top of the runway is on the horizon of this picture and then it heads downhill for a ways before ending at the forest and sharp decline down to the river.



AC_20130722_Van_Sant_04The winds were calm and the sky was darkening. I called my friends so they could pick me up and took care of tying down my airplane. I want to give rides but today was not the day. It started raining pretty hard right after I got picked up and rained on and off all afternoon and during the night. My plan is to visit for a couple of days and leave on Wednesday. A front is supposed to push through on Tuesday night which will leave behind blue skies and clear air but, sorry to report, winds from the northwest. The direction I will be flying on my next leg. Oh well, I like to fly and I’ll just have to do a little more of it in order to make it to Cleveland.

AC_20130722_Van_Sant_01Before cell phones, every airport had a pay phone in  an accessible location so pilots could call flight service for weather, file flight plans and close them after landing. It looks like this pay phone at the Van Sant airport has not had much use lately.  I’m just glad that small grass strips like Van Sant are still in operation. It is beautiful airport and if you have a chance to visit you can take a glider of biplane ride on weekends during the summer.




AC_20130724_Van_Sant_01I took this picture a few days later when I departed Van Sant. The airport was really hopping and lots of great old airplanes were out on the ramp and up in the air. This place is a real haven for classic airplanes.



AC_20130724_Van_Sant_MandPI took my friends Michael and Paula flying in Niner-zero. Paula and I circled their property several times with her door open so she could take a series of aerial photographs. Michael wanted to fly over a house he used to live in many years ago. It wasn’t quite where he remembered it but we found it quickly. When you are used to navigating on the ground it is not unusual to be a little disoriented when airborne.





Paula had my camera while Michael and I were flying and here we are on “short final” for runway 7 at Van Sant.






Paula took this photograph of me fueling the airplane. I often don’t fuel the aircraft after landing if I think I may be giving some rides. Keeps it lighter and then I fuel it before I leave. I got out around noon and headed for Ohio.

More Rides in Maryland

I had to head back to Texas to attend to some matters and I left Niner-Zero in Maryland tied down at Bennett Field. My daughters were already in Maryland visiting my mom when I returned and since then we have been joined by my son and my older daughter’s boyfriend.  My younger daughter got a ride a couple of months ago when I picked her up and brought her “home” for a visit. But none of the others have had rides yet. My older daughter, Meghan, is a photographer so there are lots of pictures with this post so the entire ritual that has developed around flying Niner-Zero has now been recorded.

AC_20130717_Hank_04One of the first things I do after taking the cover off is to “burp” the engine. The oil cap is removed and the prop is pulled through to force oil from the crankcase into the oil tank. After the last of the oil has transferred, some air is forced into the tank and makes a burping sound as it bubbles up through the oil. Then I can check the oil level. It takes between 4 and 25 “blades” before the process is complete. I’m not sure what Meghan’s boyfriend, DJ, is doing here but I am pulling the prop through.

AC_20130717_Hank_02The ropes holding the airplane down have to be removed along with the pitot tube and fuel vent covers. I like to get all of the stuff done that requires anything to be removed done before the preflight  walk around so I don’t have anything in my hands.



AC_20130717_Hank_03At this point I often have to push the aircraft forward to lock the tailwheel in position. This allows the tailwheel steering to function properly. If not done the initial taxiing may be a bit erratic which is not appreciated in tight quarters near building and other aircraft.



AC_20130717_Hank_01Then I basically start at my door and walk completely around Niner-Zero checking just about everything in sight.




AC_20130717_Hank_DJ_02Then it is time to load up my passenger, DJ, in this case and get rolling. Which we are doing here as you can see by the way my mighty engine is blowing the grass. We usually leave the doors open when taxiing in warm weather to keep things cool.



AC_20130717_takeoff_01Meg got this shot of us taking off on runway 35. After we reached about 1000 feet we opened both doors and flew out over the river to do some site seeing and then back to Bennett Field so Meghan could have her turn.



AC_20130717_Hank_Meg_01Meghan took this of the two of us shortly after takeoff. That is the look she has when she is seriously working on something. Ever since she was little, the wrinkled forehead. We opened her door for the entire flight and she took a couple of thousand pictures. She really enjoyed the view and I took her down the river almost to the bay and then back up the river all the way to Salisbury then back to Bennett field.

AC_20130717_aerial_04So here are a few of her pictures from the flight.























AC_20130717_landing_01DJ took this picture of us coming in for a landing on runway 35. Meghan commented on how close we got to the trees on final approach. You can’t even land on the first portion of the runway because of those trees. But we don’t need much runway to land Niner-Zero and we were turned around before the mid point of the runway. Got her all tied down and put away.

AC_20130721_Erik_01My son, Erik, did not arrive until the next day and this morning he and I went flying. We did a little site seeing and then headed to the “big” airport so I could fuel Niner-Zero. Erik decided to take on a little fuel also, a Dr. Pepper and some cookies. Then we headed back to Bennett Field and he took the controls for most of the flight back. Did a really good job too. My plans when I started building Niner-Zero back in ’97 was to teach my children to fly. By the time it was done, they were gone. But today Erik and I made plans for a future trip and maybe then he can do some more flying.



My next trip will be tomorrow as I will be heading back out on the “road” again. I plan to leave tomorrow morning for Van Sant Airport in Pennsylvania. I have some friends nearby that I want to visit then it will be off to Cleveland, Ohio. Back to where I first started learning to fly. You never really stop learning. I am going to visit a friend who, upon learning of my desire to be a pilot, took me out to a nearby airport to sign up for lessons. Every adventure has a beginning and this adventure really began on that evening back in 1979. Within about four months I was a private pilot. Hopefully, in few days, he’ll get a ride in my airplane. After that, it is off to Oshkosh for the annual EAA fly in. Stay tuned.

Escape From Cape Cod

AC_20130703_providence_ri_01I finally did it. I was able to depart Chatham Airport on Cape Cod on Wednesday. The fog was supposed to burn off by 11:00 but I was able to take off at 9:30 with just a few low wisps of cloud remaining. The winds were similar to my arrival over a week earlier but stronger. So, I had a strong headwind for the early part of my return flight followed by a light head wind towards the end. Flying to Cape Cod I had a nice tailwind the entire trip. It took me about 3:40 to fly to Cape Cod and 5:30 to return to Maryland. So it goes in a slow airplane. The winds can be a large percentage of the aircraft’s cruising speed and therefore be a great help or hindrance. I saw both situations on this trip. Both trips were made in two hops with a stop at Central New Jersey Regional Airport (47N). They had the cheapest fuel west of the Cape and that was my primary reason for stopping there. I flew through a couple of light rain showers on the way back and as a result Niner-Zero is much cleaner than when I left Maryland for Cape Cod. At 100 mph the bug smears on the windshield disappeared quickly once we encountered the rain. The picture of Providence, Rhode Island was taken Wednesday morning.

I did not fly on the fourth but I went out this morning and gave a high school buddy of mine, Andy, a ride. That was sufficient to warm up the oil and then Andy assisted me in doing an oil and filter change. I had shipped oil ahead to my mom’s house and I carry the tools needed in Niner-Zero. I also took all of the cowls off and gave everything a really good inspection. Everything looked fine, I have almost 90 hours on her now. On the trip back from Cape Cod the exhaust gas temperature gauge was reading really low. It is not something I really need so flying without it is not an issue. During my fuel stop I made a quick visual inspection and nothing looked astray. This morning I disconnected and reconnected the leads from the thermocouple to the gauge and now it works. The airplane was bathed in moist foggy air for most of a week and it must have led to some corrosion on the connections which added some resistance and led to the low indication.  Other than that everything is working fine. I did replace the fuel cap gaskets a couple of weeks ago and there have been no more fuel leak issues since the one on my first day out.


Cape Cod . .

AC_20130702_provincetown_01It’s Tuesday and I am still on Cape Cod. The weather has improved. The view here was taken a short while ago in Provincetown. The sun is out and there is blue sky. But my airplane is in Chatham, about 30 miles to the south. Sort of in the direction that this picutre was taken and there are clouds on the horizon. Chatham is currently reporting a 400 foot overcast. The fog and low clouds are supposed to burn off by late tomorrow morning. I plan to be at the airport in Chatham waiting for the big event, take off and fly south back to Maryland.