Fancy over Indian River Merritt Island, FL

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fancy Dancing

Fancy is getting used to me and sometimes I think she even likes me but, every now and then she tries to go off on her own, it’s usually always my own fault. The last character in her N# is F (Foxtrot) and that’s a ballroom dance. When operating a taildragger on the ground, takeoffs and landings especially, there’s a little dance involved and like in Foxtrot it works better when you lead properly. Fancy and I have been doing some dancing lately and having a lot of fun. One day we flew up to Massey in loose formation with my friend Don and his Stearman and had
fun doing that. Picture was taken by my wife from back seat. Good shot eh?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fancy flying again

Here it is Feb. 09 already and I looked to see when I last posted on this site. It was Jan. 08.
Well we took 'Fancy our airplane out of service from jan thru Nov. for some work. We recovered, painted, installed new windows, and a lot of other stuff to make her almost like new. SOmetime towards the end Of Nov. my IA deemed her airworthy again and returned her to service. A happy day that was too! Since then I have managed to put around 14 hrs on her. She looks and flies beautifully. Had one problem when wifey and I decided to land at Space Coast Regional in dec. When we landed the tail wheel went into a shimmy so bad it felt like the whole assembly would depart the airframe! It didn't. We managed to taxi off of the runway and to a safe place where we could look the thing over. The clip that attaches the chain and spring to the yoke on the rudder was missing. We made a repair and flew her back home. Upon our arrival at our home airport we did a wheel landing instead of a three point. Everything worked like it was supposed to when we let the tail come down. Since then we have replaced the wheel bearings in the tail wheel and everything seems to be as it is supposed to be. I have been practicing wheel landings when ever I fly now and haven't done a three point on a hard surface since. I have done them on the turf and so far so good. I have an idea that the problem that started the shimmy was with my landing. It was full stall and maybe dropped a couple of feet and maybe the rudder wasn't quite centered. Sure got my attention though! You tail dragger pilots know how these things can be.
Now that she's working good we're ready to go out and create adventures again. When we do this we'll write and post to this blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fly out

Five planes from Dunn aimed southwest towards Winter Haven to their annual fly in. Jerry in Tripe 66D, Steve Miller and his son in his C152, Ben and the Baby Ace, Jim Garrison and Patti in his Bonanza, and Fancy with Loretta and me. When we taxied Fancy out to 33 and turned off one of her magnetos she said, “uh, uh I ain’t feeling that good when you do that and she turned the tachometer down over 300 revs. I radioed Ben and said that we were not going to make it because of this and he said they’d miss us. Fancy took us back to the hangar and we pulled the spark plugs thinking one of these would be fouled. None were fouled but the insulator was broken in one of them. I installed a spare plug that I happened to have and did another run up. This time there was less than 100rpm drop on either magneto. Great, we can still get there so off we went and after a nice 46 minute flight, we slid into the pattern with a bunch of other planes. We were met at our parking spot by Jerry and Ben asking what had been wrong. We were there in plenty of time to get a nice lunch and look at some of the airplanes and stuff. About 1:00pm we decided to see if we could find our way back to Dunn. After propping Ben’s Baby Ace we jumped no, climbed into Fancy and fired up the engine and then the GPS and proceeded to the active runway. Good runup again! When our turn came we lined up on the runway with the GPS displaying the route home. Our airspace is very complex around here and having the GPS receiver helps keep you (ME) out of trouble. We caught up with and passed Ben in the Ace near the tall tower just northeast of Lake X airport. (he’s the only one we can ever catch!) Fifty minutes of listening to Fancy’s rhythm Dunn Airpark came into view and we set up for a landing on runway 4. Wind 350 at 7 favoring runway 33. Fancy and I prefer the turf and she doesn’t mind a little cross wind so we landed on the grass. Minutes later, Jerry landed, then Ben, and then Steve. Jim and Patti were in the gear up go fast Bonanza and have been back for twenty minutes. Debriefing is in my hangar so we sat around my hangar for a while and talked about our arrivals and departures at Winter Haven. Life is good!
The next weekend Loretta and I decided to fly to Valkaria for their monthly breakfast. The day was perfect with just a whisper of wind out of the North. Before we left Ben Charvet showed up and said something about working all day but maybe he’d do a local flight in the Baby Ace. He said his wife, Carol, is at home painting a room and she doesn’t like the mess he makes when he paints anyway. Great reasoning! Loretta and I left in Fancy and flew to Valkaria. We were kind of late getting there and were the last to have breakfast there. After breakfast we looked around a little and were walking out to the plane when I spotted N39D, Ben’s Baby Ace. He landed on runway 9 and came taxiing in with a big grin on his face. We told him that breakfast was over and he said OK I’m just going to head back. I told him that we would probably catch up with him before he got back to Dunn. (Fancy is a high speed machine ya know!) We caught up with him when we were about abeam to Merritt Island Airport. He saw us long before we caught him so we couldn’t surprise him by blowing by him. He told me the Baby Ace is like a fighter plane and you can see planes behind you. We flew up along side and Loretta took a couple of pictures and he shot a couple of us. We slowed Fancy to about 75 mph and we kind of flew back in formation. As usual after we landed we had to get together and discuss the flight. Fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Courtesy car at Smoketown

Courtesy car #2

One Saturday afternoon sometime during the late 80s or early 90s bride and I decided to go to Lancaster, Pa for a family style dinner at a place called Good and Plenty. (G&P) We landed at an airport called Smoketown, a small airport which just happened to be close to the restaurant in Pennslyvania Amish country. I remember seeing Amish farmers working the fields with work horses around the parking lot of the place.

Anyway this is the very short story about the courtesy car. We landed and had the plane topped off with gas. Then when I went in to pay I asked about getting a cab to G&P. This is a good way to find out about the courtesy car without actually asking to borrow one! As is usually the case a man there said take the car that’s here for that. Here are the keys, it’s that blue Oldsmobile out back, then he gave us directions to G&P. It just so happened that it was only about ½ mile from there.

The 20 yr old car started right up and off we started for G&P. It was a hundred or so yards to the first stop sign. Approaching the stop I applied the brakes and the car seemed to accelerate as we sailed right through the intersection. Bride had tried to push her feet through the firewall of the old car as if she could stop us from that side. If you’re anywhere near my age you probably remember dealing with vehicles like that. I pumped the brake pedal and got some back pressure and just like in the old days with my first cars if you plan your stops and pump the brakes as you approach them you can handle this. NO such thing as hitting the binders and locking her up in a panic stop. You always leave a ridiculous amount of space between you and the car in front of you in case their brakes work better than yours. You treat all traffic lights as if they are turning red until you’re into the intersection because you've got to keep pumping in case it turns red and you have to stop. Those behind you think you’re an idiot with your brake light flashing but you don’t care! We saw the entrance to the parking lot and started to plan our entrance from way back and we were successful parking the car. We had a belly busting meal, paid the bill and headed for the Oldsmobile. There she was waiting out there in the parking lot just weeping brake fluid on the ground. The big V8 started right up so I pumped the brake till I got some pressure and headed out of the parking lot, the challenge was to get her back to Smoketown Airport without hitting something. It was tense but we made it and managed to park her right over the wet spot where we found her. We went in to give the keys back and before I could say anything about the brakes the guy slapped himself on the forehead and said, “oh, I meant to tell you that you have to pump the brakes.” I asked him not to forget tell the next person.

Flew back to Blue Knob Valley Airport, Duncansville, Pa……. Life is good!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Courtesy Cars

Courtesy Cars

During the course of my flying I’ve landed at a lot of small airports. Sometimes it is because I want to visit someone nearby or take wifey to a nice place to have lunch or a stop on a long cross country or maybe forced down due to weather. Most small airports are kind of out in the country unless urban sprawl has encroached upon them. What this means is unless you know someone who can pick you up or the restaurant or hotel is within walking distance, you have to get transportation of some kind to get to where you want to go. The FBOs at these airports know this and sometimes they keep an old car around to loan to fly in pilots. It’s a very handy thing to have access to a car for a couple of hours or even over night! All they usually ask is that you put gasoline in it before you bring it back. I’ve borrowed quite a few of these cars without ever even showing any ID. Of course they have your airplane if you don’t come back! Anyway this has been an interesting aspect of my visits to these places and I like to tell about a few of these experiences.

Experience #1

My child bride and I flew our 172 from Pa. down to Florida to visit my parents one year and on the way home we encountered a line of thunderstorms that we couldn’t penetrate. We tried scud running for a while and had to turn back and find a place to land. We were over one of the Carolinas and found an airport called Wadesboro and landed. I noticed as we taxied in that there were weeds growing up around the few planes parked there and the buildings looked sort of rough. There was a piece of tin on the roof of one of the hangars that was flapping in the wind. The place looked kind of spooky! We stopped at a block building that had a pay phone attached to the side of it. This was good because I needed to terminate my flight plan. As I was looking on the building wall for the phone number for the closest FSS, ( in the old days it was always scribbled somewhere on the wall) a man startled me as he came around the corner of the building. He had a ball hat on with the bill kind of aimed away at a 45 deg. Angle, he was smiling and his teeth were stained like a tobacco chewers might be. He said, “how ya’ll doing?” I told him that we landed because of the storms and I was trying to get FSS on the phone to cancel my flight plan. He said to come on in the building and use the phone in there. We did and made the call. Then he said why don’t you and the misses take the loaner car in town for lunch and maybe it would be clear enough for us to be on our way again. We told him we’d appreciate that. He handed us the keys and pointed to an old beige colored Chevrolet station wagon with the county logo on the front doors and said, “the air conditioner works too.” We got in the car and started for town Loretta said it must be a work car because there were remnants of hay and a couple of soda cans rolling around on the floor. Thankfully the air did work! As we were driving down a road that looked like something out of “Thunder Alley,” a 60s movie about moonshine runners, I said to the child bride, ya know I have a feeling like a Jackie Gleason type of cop with the big sunglasses and the Smoky Bear hat is going to jump out of the bushes and stop us and find some wacky weed in this wagon and say, “you in a heap of trouble boy” and off we’ll go to jail. Didn’t happen! We got to town, had lunch, and headed back to the airport. I called FSS for a weather briefing and the outlook was dismal for our direction of flight. The man at the airport said “there ain’t but two motels in town and one is a flea bag joint, I’ll be happy to call the other one for you and make arrangements if you want to stay.” He said we could have the car over night too. He called and found there was a room available for us. Bride and I got the luggage out of the plane and into the county station wagon and headed out again. I was over my fear abut the Gleason type of cop! We found the motel (would have loved to see the one he called flea bag!) The bride rejected it right away and said that I had to be kidding about staying there. It was kind of shabby and every door was painted purple and there was a plastic chair by every door. I would have had to stay there by myself. After considering this for about ¾ of a second I wheeled the big wagon around in the parking lot and headed back for the airplane. The place we had driven to was west of the airport and the skies looked OK in that direction so I checked the weather again and sure enough we could go west as far as Charlotte, NC. Back at the airport I handed the guy the keys and told him the gas tank was full and thanked him and told him we were going to try to get to Munroe county airport near Charlotte. No gas available there but we had plenty to get to Munroe. We landed at Munroe just ahead of a whopper of a thunderstorm. We made arrangements for a tie down and called the local Ford dealer to rent a car. We spent three enjoyable days there driving around in a very small Ford. Weather cleared and we drove the car back to the dealer and the owner of the dealership saw us and talked to us and told us he’d personally drive us back to the airport. It was a pleasant ride with him and he was interested in talking about our flying adventure. He was a pilot but inactive for some reason but loved the talking about it. Oh yeah, we had the car three days and he told the secretary at the dealership to only charge us for one day! About $30.00.

This post is a bit long so I’ll write more later about a couple of other loaner car experiences.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

45th Anniversary of My First Solo

07 22 62 Piper J-3 N21609 1st supervised solo GMD 95275 1:00 solo.

This is the entry made by my flight instructor George M Donnelly on that day. I can remember our first flights in his J-3 Piper Cub manufactured in 1938. I was sitting in the back of course and in the front seat yelling at me almost constantly was this bald headed man who I considered to be very old. He was 43! George was a WWII Army Air Corps veteran pilot. To me it was amazing that someone who was this old could still do this.
Going through my log book the entries read, 06 15 62 stalls – turns, 06 22 spins – cord. Excersizes , 06 23 accidental spins, 06 30 four forced landings, S turns, stalls, spins TO & ldgs, etc. The good old days lots of spins and stalls! Anyway lots of yelling and lots of action. Of course we had no radio or intercom and the only way he could instruct was to yell. It was’nt all friendly yelling either. In fact one time one of the people on the ground said they could hear George yelling at me as we flew around the airport.
Anyway crunch time came after about eleven hours of this abuse. So on July 22, 1962 we flew from our home base of Williamsburg, Pa. to Mount Union about 25 miles away. I made a couple of landings that George approved of so when we made our last landing he had me taxi up to the falling down old wooden building on this airport. There was no one else around and George said he had to take a leak and I was to take the Cub around the patch three times and land to a full stop each time and taxi up to where he was and talk to him. He told me that the plane would feel different without him in it. His last words to me were “don’t you hurt my airplane.” So George headed off to go behind the old building to take care of business and I taxied out to the end of the cinder runway. I lined up on the cinder runway which was approximately 20 ft wide and brought the 65 hp Engine up to full growling power and was quite surprised at how quick we were flying and I was up to pattern altitude before I even got to the downwind leg. That had never happened before! Pulled the power off and carb heat on abeam the touchdown spot as we always did and because the plane was so light I wound up a little high on final and just like George had taught me I slipped her down to the runway and made a great landing. I taxied up to where he was standing with the engine still running and he shook my hand and handed me his half smoked Camel cigarette for me to take a couple of drags from. In those days we all smoked cigarettes and George and I were no exceptions. After the couple of puffs on the cigarette I headed out for two more take offs and landings. I could have flown without the airplane if no one was watching I was so excited! After all of this was over we flew back to Williamsburg and hopped in my 53 Studebaker Champion and talked all of the way home about that morning. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough money to pay George for that day because I was only making about $50.00 per week. When I asked George how much I owed him he said “how does $7.00 sound?” I was relieved because I happened to have enough money to pay him. We probably put close to two hours on the Cub.

In approximately 1994 one summer evening, I had a student fly me to Mt. Union in a C152 as part of his XC training and he found the place. This was not that easy to do! The airport hadn’t changed that much in the 31 years that had past. There was a Beech Sundowner and a C152 tied out there with tall weeds growing around the wheels. No one was there so I asked Rick if he wanted to fly around the patch solo a couple of times and he said yes. It was a beautiful evening and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling watching him take off and fly over the hills on the down wind leg and land on the cinder runway. He taxied up and there were no cigarettes this time because we are all a little wiser now! I climbed back in the 152 and we departed for our home airport, Blue Knob Valley (7G4), Duncansville, Pa.

Today I looked online at the sectional where the Mt. Union airport was and was saddened to see it is no longer on the map. Blue Knob is still shown but it hasn’t much life left in it either. Sad!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Flight with Fancy in June

This month’s flyin

Kong Xinyan (we call her Tracy) was in Fancy’s back seat grinning and said “wow” as we left the ground at Dunn Airpark. A left turn out after taking off headed us for the swampy area over near the St Johns River. Upon arriving over one of the many lakes out there, one with an Island in the middle of it she said “wow, that look like Taiwan!” Interestingly enough, it does look like the shape of Taiwan! This was her first time in the USA. In China there is no private aviation and Tracy had not even ever seen a small private airplane until coming here to the USA. I’ve flown over two hundred Young Eagle flights since the beginning of the program and many other first time flyers, never have I ever had a passenger who was more excited about the flight! We flew down the river looking for alligators. She amazed me by spotting so many before I did. (Young eyes I guess) Around Lake Harney we flew and she oohed and aahed about the scenery. We flew along near the western shore of the lake and there were quite a few gators about a hundred feet from shore and there was a man standing in the water up to his knees about fifty feet from shore. She saw the man and the gators which were not far away and said “he very brave man, I hope he not get eaten.” It sounded very funny to me. When we got back to our hangar we entered the flight into my logbook. She wrote in Chinese and made some kind of statement about how she enjoyed the flight. The statement ended with smiley face after an exclamation point, or maybe these are Chinese characters, I don’t know. Guess I’ll have to wait until another Chinese person comes out and can read it to me.

My friend Ben, with me on our way to Sun n Fun Lakeland, FL