Back in the air again

by on July 13, 2015

Swift-Flight-15Dec13--1I finally found enough time over the July 4th weekend to finish my part of the annual inspection and arranged to have the Inspector come out to the hangar and pass judgement on the condition of the plane. All went well and the paperwork was completed, making it legal for me to use the airplane again to commit aviation.

As the calendar would have it, the following weekend was a Young Eagles event for one of the local EAA Chapters. I work as ground crew for the events, so I didn’t have the Swift there.

There were only 3 planes available to conduct the flights and 36 kids received rides. Each of the planes was capable of taking 3 kids at a time. As a pilot, four flights take time and they can drain your energy, especially on a hot day.

Two previous Young Eagle participants were there and working hard during the event in hope of getting another ride. Unfortunately time ran out for them (they were last in line for a repeat flight experience). Both were family members of the Chapter Young Eagle Coordinator (you get ‘volunteers’ wherever you can) so I took her aside and said that if she was willing to drive the kids to the Stead airport the next morning I’d give them a ride in the Swift.

I ended up giving three rides that day. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The whole family showed up at the hangar and hung out there while we were flying. There was quite a bit going on at the airport that day – a nice weekend after a couple of weeks of stormy days. The CAP summer encampment held in the old AF barracks on the east end of the airport had their graduation – with a parade and awards held in front of the permanent Air Race grandstands and there were planes coming and going all morning – everything from an ultralight single to a Diamond twin. And it looked like a crew was prepping a MIG-21 for flight.

I ended up logging about 1.5 hours total and had a fun time. The plane ran fine and I renewed my landing currency again. Can’t ask for more than that…

If you have never flown as a Young Eagle pilot, I would highly recommend that you find a local EAA Chapter, join EAA and give it a try – pay it forward.


Annual Still in Progress

by on June 22, 2015

I’m still working on the Swift Annual Inspection, so there was no flying the past couple of weeks. It has been slow progress, not because things need fixing but because of the lack of time to get out to the airport to do the work.


This past weekend the Carson City airport had their Open House event. The EAA Chapter (#403) provided a pancake breakfast, gave rides in their ‘GroundBound’ biplane and set up a BD-5 carcass for picture-taking. The also signed up kids for Young Eagle flights to be conducted the following morning (Father’s Day).

Unfortunately the weather Father’s Day morning wasn’t very conducive to fun introductory rides. The 5 pilots volunteering their time made one flight and decided to call off the remainder of the event. Winds were forecast to be gusting over 30 mph by late morning and the forecast was holding true.

Here are some random shots taken at the Open House:

Landing Currency

by on June 11, 2015

Swift-Flight-June-2015I finally got back into the air for a short flight last week. We had a good day in the middle of the week with storms predicted to move in the next day and throughout the weekend so I took a break from website work and headed out to the airport.

I wasn’t the only one who had that idea – there were 3-4 planes in the pattern most of the time I was in the air.  I just pulled the power back flew around north and west of the airport for a while – getting as far as Beckwourth/Nervino (O02) before I turned around. The air was a bit bumpy so I stayed below the top of the green arc as I flew around and at various times fed the engine from each of the tanks to even the fuel load out.

I got back to the pattern about a half hour later and joined the other two planes practicing landings. One made a full-stop fairly quickly but the other stayed in the pattern with me as I completed 5 touch and gos. It takes a bit of planning for me to share a pattern with another plane. It seems that I fly my patterns much closer to the runway than anyone else. Maybe it’s because of the glide ratio (see crowbar)  of the Swift and my attempt to  stay within reach of pavement if the engine quits. I have had Cessna and Piper pilots fly with me say that if they flew my pattern ground tracks they would never be able to get down to the runway with enough pavement to complete a landing. That’s what makes flying fun – no two planes and no two flying days are ever the same.

June is my annual inspection month, so when I got the plane back in the hangar I got out my inspection checklist and started taking things apart. Since the engine was still warm I did the cylinder compression check first, then got the oil change started.  While things were progressing on their own at the front of the plane I moved aft, removed all the fairings and started looking in all the nooks and crannies for things that didn’t seem quite right.

With my work schedule and some weekend commitments with the Carson City EAA Chapter it will probably take me the rest of the month to finish the 100-Hour/Annual. At least it has rained the past couple of days…

If any of you are in the eastern part of the country and need somewhere to fly this week/weekend, the Annual Swift National Convention is June 10-14 in Bowling Green, KY. Lots of fun activities planned.

My logbook says that I haven’t had the Swift in the air since April 12th. That’s not something I like to do, but I made the choices to not when I could have at least flown the pattern a few times. I spent 2-3 of my free weekends polishing the plane – sort of a Spring cleaning. The idea was to have it looking nice for the AOPA regional fly-in this past weekend in Salinas, CA (KSNS). Best laid plans.

By Wednesday of last week it was obvious that it would not be a good time to go flying from here to there. I cancelled my rental car and decided to drive down. It took me about 5.5 hours each way – I drive at the posted speed limit and make everybody else drive around me. On the way down to Salinas I drove through rain, then snow with 1/2 mile visibility as I got to the top of Donner Pass on I-80. On the way back home it was just rain, heavy at times, as I cleared the pass eastbound.

The weather at Salinas was generally overcast to broken and varying from 1500′ to 2800′ for most of the weekend. Around 11 am or so on Saturday it broke up enough to let quite a few planes in VFR. I would guess that even with the low clouds they had 100-150 planes fly in but I don’t think many of them made it for the pancake breakfast that ended at 10am.

All in all it was a fun weekend with seminars, good food and a large tent of vendors. The Friday night BBQ was a nice addition.  I highly recommend that you see Brian Terwilliger’s new movie Living in the Age of Airplanes. It is an excellent film that reminds you just how special flight in any type of airplane really is – something that the majority of us, pilots and non-pilots, tend to take for granted. Consider this…

The first revenue flight of a Boeing 747 (Pan Am) was Jan 22, 1970. Assume that it took 5 years for the 747 to be in wide use by airlines around the world. Then there is a very good chance that if you were born after 1975 there has been a 747 in the air somewhere around the world every minute that you have been alive.

There were a lot of other planes at Salinas that probably deserved their own photos, but I only took three – looking at them now they span a pretty long period of aviation.

It was a fun event, as was the one I attended last year. Again, I recommend that if there is an AOPA Regional event near you, try to attend. You’ll learn something, meet a lot of aviators from your area and have a chance to talk on-on-one with people like Rod Machado, Mark Baker, Tom Haines, Melissa Rudinger and your AOPA Regional representative.