Sunday, July 27, 2008

More getting ready for Oshkosh

Glenn test flew the Zenith this morning and while it was partially successfully, there was still work to be done. The trim problem has been solved, but the cylinder-head temps were almost unacceptable.He spent all afternoon making a new induction system for the airplane while Skyler and I cleaned it off.

Hopefully we'll leave tomorrow if the weather holds. Thunderstorms are forecast tonite and the radar shows severe cells in north-central Missouri.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting Ready for Oshkosh

Tuesday we got ourselves and the airplane prepped to go to the EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh, WI. We made two trips out to the airport with most of our stuff. First to go was the cooler and camping equipment. The we made sure the cowling was on correctly, filled up the oil jug, packed the tools and the tie-downs. It looked like it was going to rain, so we pulled the airplane just out of the hangar and went to help Glenn. We were rewards with a nice, easy, short summer shower that completely washed the airplane. When it quit raining, we dried the airplane off with some old towels and put her away.
We helped Glenn by first polishing the propellor, then pulling the snap-caps off the rockers on the Zenith's engine, pulling out the old, gross and smelly grease and washing the covers in the parts washer.
Later that evening we took out our clothes in trash bags and put them in the plane. Now all we need is our food and camera equipment and we're ready to go!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My New Copilot

I took my daughter Lindsay out to the airport today and the first thing she wanted to do was sit in the airplane.

I think I have a new copilot.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ken Kotik Memorial

We went to Ken Kotik's Airport Memorial Service last night. Ken was a fairly well-known aviation artist and owned a L-4B Cub. I think Ken would have liked this composite picture as he was doing a series similar to this photo. His series was called "Flights of Faith" as he was a very religious man. The sky is unretouched as a storm was approaching.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Cub

Picture taken in December 1976 of our Cub.

The Cub

I really didn’t want another airplane. I had a Fairchild 24R that I co-owned with Al Stix, a local businessman and antique airplane collector. That airplane was basically mine as he and I were the only ones on the insurance and he never flew it. I’ll always be grateful to him for making it possible to have a great airplane like the Fairchild. And I couldn’t really afford it at the moment as I had lost my job the previous January. I did have a bit of income coming in from contract flying though and I had just interviewed for a “real” job. And if that one didn’t work out, I rationalized, I could write stories about flying my two airplanes much as Richard Bach had done in the 1960’s. Or at least I thought I could.

November niner-two, six-three-zero was built in October of 1946. She left the Lock Haven factory painted as most Cubs were, Cub-yellow with a black lightening bolt down both sides. She started life as a trainer up in Ames, IA.

My family would be her 5th owners. I had known the previous owner since 1973 as he was a friend of my dads. He had recovered the airplane twice, rebuilt the engine a couple of times and the best part was he had let the airplane sit outside all of eight nights in that 25 years period. He had taken a path away from the Cub when she bent a rocker arm in 1996. Now he was into old cars and tractors and although he had the cylinders for her engine, he had never had them on the airplane.

My son said “I’ve always wanted a Cub.” There wasn’t anything that he didn’t “always want” so I took that as being it would hold his interest for a couple nights…maybe. I had taken him for a Cub ride when he was 4, but he didn’t remember it. My daughter was too young to voice an opinion either way. My wife needed convincing and for this I turned to two friends for help. Both had had antique airplanes for years and were very knowledgeable about the ways to convince wives as well as how to take care of the little, sometimes cantankerous ( a certain red-and-crème Fairchild 24 that will remain nameless! ) but always full of adventure beasts. One friend, Glenn Peck, I had known for about 15 years. He and I always flew to Oshkosh together, me in whatever I owned at the time and he in one of the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum (of which he was Director of Maintenance) airplanes. Glenn owned a Porterfield and a Stinson SR-5 and had rebuilt about 30 tube-and-fabric airplanes as well as performing untold annuals, Major Repairs or Alterations (Form 337) and several quick fixes. And that’s just on my planes! He had grease under his nails older and more experienced than me so I trusted his judgment. The other, Andy Kisela, flew Corporate for a firm in Detroit. He had a Commonwealth Skyranger, a Stinson 108, a de Havilland Tiger Moth and a couple other assorted airplanes cluttering up his garage and hangar. They both said the same thing. “If you can get it cheap enough, restore it and fly it, you’ll never lose any money. If you have to sell it, it will sell right away as a good Cub is always in demand. It’ll be a great father-and-son bonding project, the two of you can recover it, learn it inside and out to where you know every single piece, every single nut and bolt. It’s something Skyler (my son ) will treasure for ever. “

It would need a little work. New tires and tubes, the engine case was on the mount but the cylinders were off. I didn’t even ask about the mags or carb because my friend told me it all was there, sitting on a cement floor, covered in dirt, but in its hangar. The wings were covered in Stits and the fuselage in ceconite, both having been done in the early 1990’s.

“How could I lose?” I thought to myself. “I’ve known the airplane and its owner for as long as I could remember. It’s a Cub-the perfect training airplane and one that won’t cost an arm and a leg to go fly for thirty minutes every evening. “

What sealed the deal was when Glenn said he would supervise/help/tutor Skyler and myself during the rebuild.

She said yes. Just tell her if I needed to get anything expensive (which to her means over $5) before I bought it. It was a good investment, both monetarily and emotionally. I called my friend later that morning and said I’d take the aircraft. He was relieved. The airplane was going to a good home at a place where there were people who knew how to take care of her and who would fly her.

I now owned a Cub.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Liquid Gold

The Ranger engine in the Fairchild uses oil. It loves oil. The joke amoung Fairchild owners is when you land, you check the gas and top the oil. It was designed with loose tolerances to be run with 60-weight oil. Any lesser weight oil and the engine starts losing oil pressure after an hour. 60-weight is impossible to find at any FBO, you have to take it with you. I buy oil by the 55 gallon drum. Every oil change takes 5 gallons. A drum lasts about 5 years with the amount of flying I'm doing. Even so, with the dramatic increase of the price of crude, the direct operating cost of the airplane has skyrocketed.

Here Skyler pours some of the liquid gold into a gallon container so we can put it in the airplane.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Creve Couer Remote-Control Flying Club (CC RC FC)

A few of the guys go out when the sun gets low and the winds die down to fly Remote Control airplanes. Most of these planes are the Park Zone (tm) Cub and Super Cub, but there is one T-28. Two of the guys were into flying before, so they have the gas powered planes.
Sky has graduated from the Air Hogs Aero Aces (tm) and is learning to fly a Super Cub. He's holding his own in the flying and having fun hanging out with the guys.