Sunday, April 29, 2007

"It would have been a better motorcycle day"

The forecasts all week had predicted at least one good flying day this weekend, and today was it. Few if any clouds, clear air, high pressure and, well, that's it. I usually will note if it's also going to be a light wind day, but today actually wasn't. The winds were out of the northwest at a repored 10 gusting 18, but having had some direct experience on the matter, I'm going to state that it was more like 18 lulling 10. The winds being out of the northwest is significant as well: that doesn't happen all that often, so most of the runways that I use are situated 45 to 90 degrees off that heading, virtually guaranteeing some exciting adventures in crosswind takeoff and landing procedures.

The destination du jour was Columbiana County (02G) to visit my younger sibling. This is one of those trips that really brings home the beauty of personal aircraft travel: a three hour drive is replaced by a one hour flight. Co-pilot Egg deigned to accompany today, so we packed up her travel gear and headed to the hangar at about 1100. One top-down-Miata-ride later, we were at the hangar and ready to go. Takeoff had the predicted hefty crosswind, and as the wheels started getting light at around 50 mph, I could feel the tires doing quite of bit of lateral slipping and sliding as I worked the rudder to keep us more or less pointed in the proper direction.

We headed due north as we climbed to an altitude that would allow us to cross over the Columbus Class C airspace. The top of the airspace is at 4,800', but I made sure we were well over 5,000' before making our turn to the east. It's only another few seconds to get the extra few hundred foot buffer, so it's worth it to me to not run the risk of having an altimeter or encoder issue cause me some grief with the Feds.

We climbed to 5,500' to get above most of the light turbulence, and to eke out every smidgen of benefit from the tailwind. It was passably smooth up that high and the cruise speed of 164 knots was nice, and as we settled in for the ride I asked Co-pilot Egg to pull her attention away from her Nintendo long enough for me to take a picture. What with her, like me, being pretty much evenly composed of contrarian and clown, I guess I should have expected something like this:

I started listening to the Columbiana CTAF while still quite a few miles out as I was curious about the prevailing runway selection. The runway at 02G runs from SSW to ENE, so either direction would seemingly work as well as the other with the prevailing winds, but the few planes I heard going in and out were using 25. That worked out well for us since our cruising heading would segue directly into a left downwind for runway 25. I also continued to hear reports of fairly decent winds. Not high enough to be out of the comfort zone, but high enough to not be exactly comfortable either. In fact, we were about 30 miles to the west slaloming around the big puffy clouds when I heard one pilot chime in that "it would have been a better motorcycle day." Well, that's as may be, but it certainly does presume that one has a motorcycle to ride, does it not?

Columbiana County is up in the corner of the state that the glaciers missed, so it's a bit hilly. The wind across those hills, combined with the convective activity from the Sun makes for a bumpy ride as you get below 4,000'. Ironically, below 4,000' is exactly what's required to duck down below a tab extending from the Pittsburgh Class B airspace that seems to always overlap my approach to 02G. One of these days I'll remember to fudge my cruise track up to the north enough to give me a straight shot at the airport without intersecting the Pittsburgh airspace, but today wasn't that day so we dealt with the bumps as we finished up the last 10 miles of the trip.

I warned Egg that this was likely to be an eventful landing, and self-fulfilling prophecies being what they are, such was naturally the case. We caught an enormous updraft on short final which necessitated a precipitous withdrawal of the throttle, predictably followed closely by a downdraft. We were still ahead of the game enough to get a nice flare right over the numbers, but a late gust lifted us back up to about 10 feet. I hate it when this happens, I truly do. Ten feet up, no energy left to work with, and the only hope for recovery from a humongous splat on the runway being a quick jab with the throttle and another, hopefully better, flare. All the while, the crosswind is like a Centrist in the voting booth, trying to decide whether certain ruin lies to the Left or the Right and urging us to follow his decision. The second flare went well and we had a fairly decent touchdown, but I'm still awarding myself a grade of 'C' (which, of course, stands for Keeeee-rappppy).

We spent a couple of hours looking at my sister's beautiful new house and tromping the extremely rural environs. My sister is a ground watcher, always looking for new and different flora and fauna, and we were certainly in a target rich environment. We caught sight of the following collection of wildflowers, mushrooms, and critters:

I bought gas at 02G (not bad at $3.79) so we were faced with a full tanks takeoff. 02G is surrounded by hills, and to add insult to injury, the hills are all topped with towers and high power electrical lines. Yet another case where an extra 20 or 30 horsepower would make a big difference. I'm going to start tallying these situations...

Climbing out, it felt weird to have flown in a diametrically opposite direction to last week's trip, yet still be looking at the Ohio River:

I tried staying down at 3,500' to avoid too much penalty from the headwind that I knew we would be battling at the higher, yet smoother altitudes. A few minutes of the head-banging-against-the-canopy ride convinced me, though, that it was wiser to trade a few knots for the smoother ride. AT 6,500', the ride was still a little bumpy, but nothing like what we were getting at the lower altitude. We gave up a 147 knot cruise speed for a 142 knot cruise speed, but it was well worth it for the smoother ride. In fact, it was smooth enough for Egg to nod off and offer me an opportunity to get a picture:

Since we were already at 6,500', I headed direct for Bolton, knowing that I could save a few minutes by going over the top of the Columbus airspace rather than circumnavigating it at the lower altitude. Even though I could have gone right on over without talking to the controllers, I went ahead and called them anyway just as we passed Newark. Sometimes it works out better to call them because they can route you into an area where you won't conflict with the airline traffic, which allows them to let you descend sooner that if you had waited until you were clear of the airspace. An RV can do that, mind you, but the rapid altitude loss required to dive/slip from 6,500 down to pattern altitude (1,800') plays havoc with my ears. Today they vectored us down to the south of Port Columbus (KCMH) and cleared us to descend to 3,000' at our discretion. Knowing it was bumpy down there, I considered waiting until we were closer to Bolton, but the temptation of snapping a couple of pix was we blew past downtown Columbus was too hard to resist:

Bolton was still mispronouncing "18 lulling 10" as "10 gusting 18" when we got back, but they had shifted to runway 4. That lined us up to enter the right downwind, which is not my favorite given that I sit on the left side of the plane. It makes it hard to see the runway, etc. That said, it set me up for this nice shot of my neighborhood:

It was another 'C' landing, and again the touchdown was ok but we got a bit swervy on the rollout. Egg had a fun time seeing her aunt, uncle, and cousins, but the bumpy ride had taken some of the starch out of her. She stretched out on the hangar couch while I got Papa wiped off and settled in. The Miata ride home was rejuvenating, though, and we still made it home in time to watch the last 40 laps of the Talladega race. All in all, a pretty incredible day! Who needs a motorcycle anyway?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hogarth Kramer

This is another picture from the plane cleaning operation a few weeks ago:

If you didn't know him as well as I do, you might be tempted to wonder what he's thinking. Trust me when I tell you, he's not.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not to be obsessive, but...

I just can't get this thing out of my thoughts:

This is the CLC Shearwater Hybrid. The 'Hybrid' doesn't come from some trendy new combination of batteries and golf cart motors, it actually refers to the multi-colored cedar strips that give the builder the opportunity to artistically customize their boat. They give the appearance of being a strip-built boat while retaining the building ease of the stitch & glue boat.

Oh, I may not have mentioned that I live just a few miles from the public access canoe/kayak launch point on the Big Darby. Hmmmm...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on that pursuit thing...

As I was thinking this pursuit of a pursuit thing through some more yesterday, I realized something: there's no reason that said pursuit has to be aviation related. Having finally had the thought it now seems obvious, and it opened some doors into some long-forgotten pursuits that were never really completed to my satisfaction. Once I started traveling down that path, it didn't take long to find something that could be a pretty nifty mix of project and desirable result.

I've long had an affinity for sailboats. Not as long or as strong as the airplane thing, mind you, but a long time nonetheless. I actually owned a share of a catamaran once, but it never got used. It was too complex and difficult to tow/rig for a first boat; it was like jumping from a trainer straight into something as challenging as an RV-6. Oh wait, I did that. Well, the 60-some Mooney hours probably helped. In any event, lesson learned. If I am to pursue this sailboat idea, it must be a simple boat, one that is easy to rig, easy to store, and easy to build.

Yes, I said build. In this amazing world of IKG (Instant Knowledge via Google), it is a simple matter to find more than you could ever want to know about things like, say, 'boat kits'. Within moments of wondering if such a thing was commonly available, I was looking at the web site of the Adirondack Guide Boat Company. From there, it was but a short jaunt to the Cedar Guideboat Kit. Beautiful boat, but long story short: too big, too heavy, and too expensive.

Google is rarely satisfied with providing only a single lead, of course, so it was on to the next link. Eventually I came across the web site for the Chesapeake Light Craft Company. This is exactly what I was looking for! A diverse collection of boats (too diverse, actually - I'm still trying to decide which one appeals to me the most) designed to be built by novices. They use a patented (funny how 'patented' is always seemed to marketed as a benefit, as if merely holding a patent on something makes it superior) technology for making a lap strake boat using the stitch & glue method. Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either, but it's a very good web site and the question was easily answered.

I'm not going to walk you through all of the various designs I looked at, each in turn being selected (albeit briefly) as the boat that I simply must have, but will instead cut to the chase and present the two finalists (although I encourage you to spend some time looking at the others - some are quite beautiful):

Now, obviously one of those is not a sailboat, but keep in mind that I'm keeping an open mind. The sailboat is called a Passagemaker Dinghy, and details can be found here. The long, narrow rowboat is called an Oxford Rowing Shell. Details are here.

The sailboat appeals in the way a Cessna 172 would: room for guests and simple to operate. The rowboat has the appeal of an RV-3: easy for a single person to move around and propel, and a healthy, fun way to exercise. Ok, that second point probably doesn't fit the RV-3 metaphor, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to make this post at least minimally germane to this site. It also has the selling point of being damned sexy looking, while the sailboat is somewhat homely. On the other hand, the rowboat is like a Pitts biplane: it's very good at one specific thing, but that's it. It's a single-tasker. The sailboat can also be motored or rowed, and it can be easily trailored. Ironic isn't it? (Well, no it's not if you didn't follow the link.)

I had a lot of questions about what it would entail to build one (quick answer: 100 hours, $3,850 including tools), and Google again showed the way: here's a blog that goes through every single step of building a Passagemaker. I suggest starting here and working your way back to the top if you're going to read it all. Just like this blog, it's organized in reverse chronological order.

As far as securing financing, (which, it seems, is always the crux of these matters) I'm still trying to determine the appropriate tack to take when floating this idea.... (Pun(s) intended, and yes, you can expect a lot of that if I start going all nautical!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Getting to the bottom of these daggone landings

Bee-uh-you-tee-full. Forecast to see temps in the low 70's, not a cloud to be seen for hundreds and hundreds of square miles, and any significant wind (or breeze, for that matter) completely absent from the picture. If you could freeze dry and/or bottle perfect flying weather, you would be looking for exactly that forecast as the recipe.

In pursuit with my resolution to branch out of Ohio destinations, the plan was to stop by at MadCo to tank up, continue to the southwest to orbit around the class B airspace around Cincinnati, and finally make a jog to the west into Indiana to arrive at Lee Bottom Flying Field, "where old planes go to fly," as proclaimed on their web site. Lee Bottom is a privately owned, public use air field right on the banks of the Ohio river and is well renowned for the classic aircraft fly-ins they host a few times a year. Nothing was scheduled on this particular day, but it still seemed like it might be an interesting place to see. Since these kinds of trips are always more fun with someone else riding along, I pulled Rick away from working on his RV-9A to spend a day flying instead.

The morning started with the first of the many "I don't wannas" I was going to hear from PapaGolf. Sure, it is by no means uncommon for it to take 5, 6, or even 10 blades to start a Lycoming, but Papa has always been a one or two blade kinda guy. With that in mind, I should have known that the relatively reluctant start was a precursor of a day full of passive-aggressive resistance to my will on the part of my mount. Nothing blatant or hostile, mind you, but more of a general malaise. I think Papa generally prefers a lone rider, truth be told, but as I like to consider myself the primary decision maker in our relationship, I remained firm in my decision to fly with both seats occupied. Besides, it is good and necessary to practice flying with the extra weight now and then; nothing will spoil you faster than spending too much time flying a lightly loaded RV.

So, saddled up and off to MadCo for the required load of fuel. The takeoff from Bolton was the opportunity for a second "I don't wanna" from Papa. As expected, the takeoff roll was much longer than when it's just me in the seat, but what was unexpected was the unintentional return to the runway after I had lifted the wheels. Sure, it was destined to be the lightest touchdown of the day, but that doesn't count for anything on takeoff. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Not desirable at all, no matter how smooth.

MadCo seemed to be favoring runway 9, which was not a particularly good omen as I have never had a good landing heading that direction. I don't know why, it's just one of those things, I suppose. Of course, this is exactly the mental hangup that inevitably becomes self-fulfilling, and such was indeed the case. I always seem to talk myself into carrying a little extra speed and power into the landing when we're heavy, and the results are almost always the same: big, big bounce. I'm going to score this landing an 'A'. That isn't the same 'A' you get on your report card, though. In my landing grading scale, 'A' stands for 'Ayyyy-trocious'. Gassing up didn't go all that smoothly either, what with waiting 15 - 20 minutes for the guy who had managed to park his plane such that it blocked the pumps to finish his extended sojourn in the mens room. The $3.71 toll for gas was a bit of a shocker as well. It's going to be an expensive summer!

Full fuel and full seats with nary a puff of breeze to assist with the takeoff did nothing to improve Papa's petulant and pouty mood, as evidenced by the lethargic climb to cruising altitude. Once at 3,500', we settled into a bumpy, hour long ride to Indiana. A side effect of approaching the airport from the East was that it was hidden behind a ridge until we were just about right one it. The lines are faint, but in the picture below you can see the 700+ foot ridge blocking the view on the Kentucky side of the river:

No problem, though, since the GPS knew exactly how far away it was and provided me with the distance information I needed to determine when to start slowing down. Getting an early start on reining Papa in is important when he's in the "I don't wanna" mood, as the extra weight causes issues in that realm as well. "Slow to get started, slow to get stopped," is the nature of that beast. In any event, the landing wasn't particularly bad, although some of the less smooth areas of the 3,100' grass runway caused some late bounces. Those don't count against my grade, though. The runway's bad grade doesn't give me a bad grade, which seems only fair.

There wasn't much going on at Lee Bottom, but it was still a great place to visit. The few folks and two airport dogs were all very friendly, and took a few minutes to show us around. In addition to being a flying field that is a perfect example of the type of grass roots aviation that built this country and is now under fire from the desperate and abysmally managed airlines in concert with a corporation friendly government, Lee Bottom is located right on the Indiana bank of the Ohio river and is therefore very scenic. I could have spent hours there just wandering around sight-seeing, but nature was calling (no, not in the way nature reminds you of the downside of coffee-fueled flight - that call had already been answered) and telling me that it was time to find some lunch.

The takeoff from Lee Bottom gave Papa another chance to try out his new trick of settling back onto the runway post-liftoff, and the climb was again relatively lazy, but we weren't going that high anyway. The plan was to stay under the southern shelf of the Cincy Class B airspace as we headed due East to Portsmouth, Ohio, so our cruise altitude for the first 20 miles or so was only 3,000'. By early afternoon, the sun had warmed the ground to the extent that the convective bumps were beyond being noticeable, and had in fact risen to the level of being a tad annoying. Portsmouth, while being an Ohio airport and thus not in compliance with my interstate travel resolution, was still an airport that I had never been to. Approaching from the West, it became the second airport in a row that was invisible until we were right on it. It was also another landing that was affected by the reluctance of Papa to slow down once he had worked up a good gallop, so a bit of mid-final slip was required to shed unwanted surplus altitude, and interestingly enough, the landing itself was actually pretty good. And to top it all off, it was apparently taildragger day at Portsmouth:

The airport diner was worth the trip. Clean, well lit, excellent service, and as you can see from the menu, another argument in favor of the economic benefits of owning an airplane:

Until, that is, it came time to buy some gas. Papa wanted 18.3 gallons, and at $4.17 per, ran up a pretty big tab. Ah, well, even at that price it still remains the case that fuel is the cheapest thing I put into the airplane, and given what I get in return, one of the best bargains ever.

On the flight back to Bolton, I stayed to the East of the two MOAs that block a large area of southern-central Ohio. In retrospect, that was kind of stupid since at the altitude we were flying, I really only needed to stay away from the smaller of the two MOAs. We could have easily stayed under the minimum altitude of the bigger MOA and saved 5 - 10 minutes of flying. The more easterly route did give me the opportunity to see if anything was going on at the Circleville Kart racing track, though. I haven't raced there for years and I was wondering if they were still a going concern - it looks like it is.

The landing back at Bolton was scored an 'A++'. A huge bounce, a bit of power to flatten the porpoising, another bounce, another burst of power, and finally the most dreaded of all, the chatter-bounce (tail wheel, mains, tail wheel, mains, tail wheel, mains, chatter chatter chatter), each impact accentuated with a snare drum accompaniment of F-word based expletives. With my luck, if I'm ever going to accidentally key the mike, it will be in the midst of one of these incredibly aggravating chatter-bounce landings. I can only imagine what the FAA and/or FCC fines for that would be. Guessing at $100 per occurrence, it would have been a $1000 landing.

It's a poor rider that blames his mount, much along the lines of the poor worker blaming his tools, so I can't blame Papa for that terrible performance. Still, while he got his post-flight bug wiping, he didn't get the normal pat on the jowls and compliment for a job well done. We have some work to do on our landings, me and Papa. We can do better. Other than that, though, it was another terrific day of flying. I can't think of anything I would have rather been doing than gallivanting around the tri-state area on a beautiful Spring day.

I don't normally do this...

For various and sundry reasons, I keep this blog in somewhat of an Internet vacuum and don't often link to other Web postings, but every now and then I come across something that resonates so deeply with me that I want to share it. So, without further ado, I offer this to you:

Friday, April 20, 2007

In Pursuit of a Pursuit

So, what do you do when the things you've dreamed about, lusted for, and chased after for your whole life have all been accomplished? I suppose if you're Bill Gates you buy yourself an island and retire to the rewarding pursuit of focusing your untold billions on philanthropic projects ala Andrew Carnegie. But what if your means aren't really up to such rewarding pursuits? You still have the hunger for the chase, and a gnawing hunger it is.

As I was out mowing the lawn of my palatial estate, located no more than one statute mile from my hangar, which houses my beautiful RV-6, I couldn't help but bask in the fact that all of my needs have been met. A wonderful and healthy family, the best job I could ever hope for, a plane that I can fly wherever and whenever I want, cars that aren't constantly breaking down, and the aforementioned estate: what more do I need?

Well, the answer is nothing. I want for nothing. That, I think, is the problem (and admittedly, it's not a bad problem to have at all!). With nothing left to desire, nothing left to strive for, no goals remaining, what do I do to assuage the innate desire for a quest? This quest for a quest, if you will, must certainly be the explanation for why I continue to ponder various schemes for building, restoring, or completing a homebuilt airplane. It's odd, actually. The goal of many airplane builders is not the quest itself per se, but the end result of having an airplane to fly. I short circuited that by purchasing a complete and flying RV-6. Nothing at all wrong with that - I'd make the same decision today. But... something is still missing, and it's not a 180hp engine or a panel full of glass. The urge to create something is what goes unmet.

I go through various scenarios: build a single seat, wood airplane (Fisher Flying Products has many examples, but the Tiger Moth in particular strikes my fancy), find an older homebuilt that needs to be restored, or build a QB kit that can be completed in less than 700 or so hours (the Titan T-51 fits that nill nicely). Somewhere in that continuum would also be the idea of finding a plane that has been completed to the bare minumum (no paint, simple VFR avionics) and treating it like a restoration project with a higher initial cost and less grunge work (cleaning out birds nests and bugs, and their byproducts).

Each idea has pros and cons, but one thing that I keep circling back to is the balancing act between resale value, personal desirability, effort required, and cost. For example, I could build a little Fisher single seat biplane using wood, the ultimate composite, but I'd have a hard time selling it. That said, it's not inconceivable that I would keep it (in other words, it scores high on the personal desirability scale), but I'd have to find a lower cost place to keep it than a hangar at Bolton. I could do something with an RV with a focus on sellability, but the dollars invested would be much higher. The fundamental question always boils down to dollars and cents: what is the appropriate amount to invest in the pursuit of a quest? Must it be the absolute minimum? Does it make more sense to spend more dollars up front for the assurance that the final product would sell not only easily but well?

It is on these distracting thoughts that I place the blame for my accidentally mowing down a sapling. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. But the thoughts go on...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Is it here?

Is it finally here? The grass is green and growing, the sky is blue, and the winds have abated to a doldrumesque 9 gusting 16 out of the northwest. That, of course, meant that I had to go flying! Winds from 340 mean that Bolton would be using runway 4, which points to the northeast. It doesn't take a whole lot of trigonometry to discern the import of that: a nearly direct crosswind from the left.

If you remember, the crosswind from the left on takeoff is a tad harder to deal with than if it were from the right because there is already a left turning tendency from the torque of the engine combined with the spiralling air spilling off of the prop and onto the side of the rudder. No problem yesterday, though, as despite the promise of healthy gusts, it was actually a nice steady wind. Which, as is normally the case, went from being a crosswind to being a headwind once I established my course towards Urbana, where I would be dining. At 2500 rpm, I couldn't get much more than 134 knots. Pitiful, but hey, at least it was a short trip.

The runway at Urbana is aligned 20 degrees further north than the one at Bolton, so most of the crosswind component was removed for the landing. Still, it was a 9 knot wind and that should have some effect on the landing, but I greased the landing, much to my surprise. It must have been apparent even from a distance because the fellow on left downwind said something about my being a "helluva flier," although his radio cut out a bit and it sounded more like "liar." Odd, that.

Should you ever (and I admit, the odds are against it) find yourself in the position of deciding between the meatloaf and the scalloped chicken at Urbana, I'd go with the meatloaf. Not that I had it, mind you. I opted for the chicken. Read into that what you will.

Fortunately my issues with the chicken didn't really rise to emergency status until I was home, so the relatively bumpy/choppy ride last night wasn't overly unpleasant. In fact, with the motor run up to 2500 and shaking in its restraints like a greyhound in the race gate poised for a screeching run after the rabbit, it was a great reminder as to why I fly in the first place, especially as I noted the 164 knot ground speed. The feeling of unlimited freedom to move fluidly about in the sky, the delicate balancing of risk vs. reward, the immensity of being the total master of your own destiny, the lofty perch from which to view a few hundred square miles of central Ohio, the mastery of a complex and powerful machine, these all combine to make flying one of the most rewarding activities known to man.

Coming back into Bolton, the tower control called me out as traffic to a departing Cessna as "I think it's an RV-6." A few moments later, his normal decorum gave way to his curiosity: "6 Papa Golf, what is that thing? Is it an RV-6?"

"You are correct," I replied.

His response was cute: "I knew it!" I love it when those guys allow a tiny break in their stern, professional facade and show an actual interest in the airplanes that they work with.

The wind had died down by the time I got back, but still required a little bit of correction down final. They were still landing on runway 4, so I made my normal high approach that allows me to land a third of the way down the runway and depart the runway on the taxiway closest to my hangar. The landing was pretty good, but I did flare a little higher than I should have, which is a typical result of going from a narrow runway to a wide runway. I've lately started carrying a bit more power into the flare and have found that it generally improves things. It had been a cardinal rule of mine to make sure the throttle was all the way back in the flare because it had caused enormous bounces back in my tailwheel transition training days, but it seems that wheel landings (my new norm) are aided by a bit of cushion provided by the residual thrust of a high idle throttle setting. in any event, it was one of those landings that feel like laying your head on a thick down pillow: you can feel a little bit of initial cushioning, but you just keep sinking lower and lower, knowing that you will eventually hit bottom. Touchdown wasn't particularly firm, nor was there any bouncing, so I'm scoring it as a fairly good landing, with just a few points deducted for starting the flare a bit too soon.

Update: If you're wondering who Hogarth Kramer is, allow me to briefly explain: he's my dog. I was fooling around with my Blogger profile and there were, uh, unintended consequences, since fixed. Bob has a sharp eye...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Cloud in Every Silver Lining

We had a short reprieve from the pilot-unfriendly weather patterns we've been experiencing these last few days weeks months today, and I leapt on the proffered opportunity to take PapaGolf out for a canter through the neighborhood. Having recently been the recipient of a bang-up airplane cleaning provided by some of co-pilot Egg's neighborhood friends, I more or less decided on impulse to stop by the neighbor's house and see if the enthusiastic washer that I had awarded "Airplane Washer of the Day" would care to ride along. That seemed like the least I could do in thanks for a couple of hours of wing and belly washing, and it's always nice to have some company along.

I throttled back to 2000 rpm once we reached our cruising altitude of 3,500' and we loafed along at a leisurely (heh!) 135 knots. It was a tad hazy, so the scenery wasn't as good as it might have been for my guest, but he enjoyed the ride nonetheless. We returned to Bolton to find the winds had picked up to 140 @ 6, but that isn't enough to be at all bothersome and I still anticipated a smooth landing. In fact, I made one of the best landings I've ever had in that airplane. Right wheel first to account for the crosswind from the right, left wheel a moment later, both touching the runway so smoothly that I could barely feel them start to rotate.

"Well, that was a pretty good landing, if I do say so myself," I observed.

His reply? "It was a little bumpy."

So I'm thinking, "Geez, what's it take to impress some people?" when I see out of the corner of my eye that he's got a big ol' RV grin on his face and he's just ribbing me on the landing. I'll bet Egg has coached him...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Snow Day

Winter just can't take a hint. 25F and snow today, in April!

There won't be any flying today, and through previous experience you all know that means I spend the morning looking at airplane ads. Today's find is this fine looking F1 Rocket:

It had a prop strike, so the engine had to be completely overhauled. It also hasn't got paint on it yet, so between those two price-reducers you get a $150k airplane with an asking price of $120k. I also think this one is being sold by the insurance carrier for the previous owner since I recognize the name of the guy selling it as my insurance agent.

I'm tempted to ask him what the insurance costs on it would be as compared to my RV-6 policy, but it's moot: it's not like I have $65k lying around looking for a good home. Daydreaming about it is a nice way to spend a snowy Saturday morning, though!

On an unrelated topic, I still ponder upgrades to Papa's panel, but I've been having trouble visualizing what it would look like to add subpanels for the new instruments rather than try to duplicate the existing panel with a new blank panel. I came across this RV-6 panel while browsing through the For Sale ads this morning:

That looks ok to me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

This is so far past ridiculous that I don't even have a word for it...

Can you believe that I am still working on this??

After burning will north of 200 sheets of paper, days of barely repressed (that's being generous) anger and rage, tech support calls to people even more prickly than me (yes, "Betty" at TurboTax, I'm talking about you), I have finally reached my limit. If it ain't right, the brainiacs at the IRS will just have to figure it out.

I've tried to account for CPA buffoonery in past years returns, I've had to wrestle TurboTax to the ground to remove a bogus penalty & interest entry that it made on my behalf (with no help from Betty, I might add), and I've just about had it with my lame-ass PC hardware and printer. Especially the printer, which decided to crap out with only a few pages left to print of what had damn well better be the final version.

I will not be doing this again next year.

If only...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring Break 2007!!

Warm beaches, warmer wimmen, and cold drinks? Well, no. We stayed home to enjoy the frigid, windy Indian Winter. Winds and temps both in the 30s. Not exactly flyin' weather!

But, life, lemons, and lemonade. Stiff upper lip. Make the best of it. Yeah, all of that applies. The high winds came first (canceling a cool trip I had planned to Louisville as it turns out), but the low temps weren't due for another day or two. Time to cash in the chips garnered from flying neighbor kids around and get a crew together for a good, old-fashioned plane cleaning: