First off – Happy First Flight Day – December 17, 1903.
I made it back into the air on Sunday after a two-week break from flying. Last weekend was spent digging out from an 8″ snowfall. Then it seemed like forever that the high temperature for the day never got above freezing. My hanger is not insulated or heated and the Swift doesn’t have cabin heat installed. Apparently the previous owner, who had the plane built up with the new engine, didn’t feel that he would need one living down in the central valley of Northern California. Those temperatures and no heater can make for some uncomfortable flying. Yeah, I know, it’s on the list of things to do to improve the airplane.
Sunday was supposed to be a warmer day, though hazy, so I made my break for the airport. It took me a while to chip enough snow and ice away from the door to the hanger open. I plugged in my pre-heater and then worked on the rest of the hanger doors. These hanger doors are in multiple sections that fold toward the outside walls of the hanger. They are suspended from the top and also run on rollers on tracks on the bottom. The airport maintenance crew had cleared off the majority of the snow from the front of the hanger. All that remained was the last 3-6″ closest to the door. Of course that was the part that prevented the doors from doing their accordion operation. In the mean time, the pre-heater was doing it’s best.
When I finally pulled the plane out and started up, the AWOS was saying that the temperature was 2 deg C (34F). Since it was supposed to get up to the 40s I was thinking positively about being warm in the cockpit. As predicted, it was clear but a bit hazy. Shortly after takeoff I was above the haze layer – the top of the temperature inversion. The cold air finds it’s way to the low points of the mountain valleys and if there isn’t much in the way of wind to aid in mixing a strong temperature inversion can develop.
The Reno-Stead field elevation is 5050′MSL. By the time I had climbed up to 7000′ MSL my outside air temp gauge was indicating 16 deg C (61 F). I was warm enough to open the outside air vent a little. The winds on the surface were less than 5 knots and the flight was beautifully smooth, even crossing the ridges in the area.
The very high elevations (above 8000′) look like they have plenty of snow, but a lot of the lower areas are pretty clear. I took this shot just north of the Nervino Airpot (O02) near Beckwourth, CA.
I’m not sure if I’ll get into the air this coming week. We have another cold front moving into the area Thursday morning that is forecast to drop the temperatures down into the 30s again and leave us with another 4″ of snow on the valley floor.
On Monday December 16th the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) dedicated the new Reno-Stead Airport operations building/terminal. All of the requisite politicians were there taking credit for the project. The real backer for the project is the recently-retired head of the RTAA, Krys Bart. It was through her efforts the the project found funding and was, ultimately approved for construction.
The center area is a large lobby area that will be populated with all manner of memorabilia from the rich aviation history of Stead Airport/AFB. Another dedication of the displays will be planned for Veteran’s Day in November 2014.
The bottom floor on the east side is currently available lease space, though I have heard a couple of different Stead organizations discussing lease arrangements. The first floor west side has a pilot lounge, a flight planning area and restroom/shower facilities. Upstairs on the east side is the Emergency Operations center room which, when not being used in that capacity, can be used as a community meeting room for local organizations, safety meetings, etc. The airport management offices are upstairs on the west side and provide a beautiful view of the majority of the aircraft ramp area.
It’s a beautiful building. If you’re in the area stop by and take a tour.